I listened with interest this morning to radio reports that there could be as many as 200 divorces being directly linked to the computer game Fortnite. Presumably this is as a result of one spouse becoming fed up with the overuse of the addictive game by the other.
Under the current law in this country, citing the overuse or addiction to a computer game could be used as one example of behaviour that a person finds unreasonable about their spouse. Divorce petitions based on the fact of “behaviour” are the most common. Behaviour is one of the “five facts” needed to apply for a divorce. The other four are adultery, two years separation with consent, five years separation and desertion and only one must be chosen.
The law has not yet changed to allow for a “no fault” divorce, although this is widely expected to come in the near future. Therefore, at present a person wanting to file for divorce on the fact of behaviour must satisfy the Court that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and that their spouse’s behaviour is so unreasonable that they find it intolerable to continue to live with them.
Unsurprisingly I have seen a whole host of different examples of behaviour cited over the years and I was not surprised to hear that a phenomenon or craze such as Fortnite is now cropping up in divorce papers.
What is meant by “unreasonable”?
It is a subjective test, so the behaviour has to be “unreasonable” in the mind of the person on the receiving end of the behaviour. This may not be the view of the “average person”. So if the spouse filing for divorce feels it is unreasonable for their partner to lose hours and hours of their life to Fortnite then the test of unreasonableness is satisfied.
It is still important to ensure that there are sufficient allegations of behaviour to satisfy the Court that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. There is no minimum number of examples required but Playing Fortnite to excess in itself would probably not be enough. As a rule of thumb I ask clients to give me 5 – 10 examples. Most find that fairly easy to do!