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Thread: Belgian court rule that erotic online chat is ground for divorce

  1. #1
    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Arrow Belgian court rule that erotic online chat is ground for divorce

    Belgium already has the 2nd highest divorce rate in Europe after the UK (and highest 'per marriage'). It is hardly surprising when we see what can constitute a valid reason for divorce. Have a look at the following article :

    Virtual sex is 'grounds for divorce', say judges

    I could agree that people participating to sexy chat with other people on the Internet is "not compatible with the respect they owed their spouse", but does it constitute a valid claim for divorce ?
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    ژ^ Index's Avatar
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    Welcome back to the thought police.

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    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Index
    Welcome back to the thought police.
    Chatting (with written proofs) is not really what I'd "thought".

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    The act of chatting or typing might not be thought, but the content of what goes on is only in your mind, so I'd say it is an act of imagination or thought. What is the written proof of? Definitely not a physical act. More like a work of fiction. If you and I were to correspond about commiting a crime, and indeed went so far as to describe the act of commiting the crime in detail, but with no intent or intention of taking it beyond the written form, does that make us co-conspirators in the crime?

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    re: misleading title "Virtual sex is 'grounds for divorce', say judges"

    The link was good this morning, but now it isn't, so I'll have to speak from what I can remember. I had some difficulty understanding what was going on in the article; I wonder if the title wasn't a vast simplification and thus misleading of the article's content.

    As far as I recall, the argument went, using email print outs as evidence to support a divorce case is permissible according to this judge as long as access to the incriminating email was not obtained by hacking or trickery which is illegal whereas previously such evidence was thrown out on the ground that it infringed on the privacy of the accused. It is still unclear how the plaintiff would go about obtaining permission from the accused to get access, the judge is simply stating that 'privacy' to 'private messages' is not a valid reason to dismiss such evidence.

    It does not appear that emails and chat records were the primary act of infidelity, but corollary evidence to strengthen the party's argument by saying there was unfaithful states of mind and that could make the betrayed spouse's case more convincing. It therefore sounds more like a little technicality that has been bothering divorce courts; but now there's no more blanket protection from the privacy argument.

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    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Index
    The act of chatting or typing might not be thought, but the content of what goes on is only in your mind, so I'd say it is an act of imagination or thought.
    What about speech ? Freedom of thought and freedom of speech is not the same. Anyway, it's not about freedom at all, but consequences of what you say for others' feelings (in this case, the spouse).

    What is the written proof of? Definitely not a physical act. More like a work of fiction. If you and I were to correspond about commiting a crime, and indeed went so far as to describe the act of commiting the crime in detail, but with no intent or intention of taking it beyond the written form, does that make us co-conspirators in the crime?
    You don't need a physical act or crime to ask for a divorce. In many countries, just knowing that your spouse cheated on you, verbally abuse you, abused your confidence, or did anything contrary to the respect someone should have for their spouse is enough to ask for a divorce. It does not have to be a crime. Do you understand the difference between Civil Law and Criminal law ? Divorces are normally regulated by Civil Law.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Index
    If you and I were to correspond about commiting a crime, and indeed went so far as to describe the act of commiting the crime in detail, but with no intent or intention of taking it beyond the written form, does that make us co-conspirators in the crime?
    No, because you don't hurt anyone. But sex-chatting over the Net can hurt your real partner, whatever you are personally writing or even thinking. There is the problem: you hurt someone...

    PS: when I wrote "you", it was not personnal of course

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    Quote Originally Posted by lexico
    It does not appear that emails and chat records were the primary act of infidelity, but corollary evidence to strengthen the party's argument by saying there was unfaithful states of mind and that could make the betrayed spouse's case more convincing.
    That makes some sense, but as you say, seems like somewhat of a technicality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mamoru-kun
    No, because you don't hurt anyone. But sex-chatting over the Net can hurt your real partner, whatever you are personally writing or even thinking. There is the problem: you hurt someone...
    What you say makes sense but I would still say it is an act of imagination or thought.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    What about speech ? Freedom of thought and freedom of speech is not the same.
    I'm sorry but I don't quite see what you are getting at here. Would you be kind enough to rephrase?

    As far as I am aware, in this country (Aus) I am allowed to think whatever I want, and say whatever I want in a private conversation. I do not have to worry whether the content of my speech act offends someone, unless it is direct or public defamation. Perhaps in the case of private written correspondance, the situation would be different, though in my opinion, the person who would publicize my (private) comments should take legal responsibility

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    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Index
    I'm sorry but I don't quite see what you are getting at here. Would you be kind enough to rephrase?

    As far as I am aware, in this country (Aus) I am allowed to think whatever I want, and say whatever I want in a private conversation. I do not have to worry whether the content of my speech act offends someone, unless it is direct or public defamation. Perhaps in the case of private written correspondance, the situation would be different, though in my opinion, the person who would publicize my (private) comments should take legal responsibility
    I believe that in any country, saying the wrong things to the wrong person can get you into trouble. Legally, you cannot reveal secret or private information (e.g. a company selling private data, or an employee spying for another company) without risking being brought to court. Regarding this case, hurting your spouse's feeling has for consequence a divorce if the spouse feels it is bad enough. The novelty of the court rule is that it concerns Internet chat, but a normal conversation would have led to the same thing.

    So, be it spoken or written, your freedom of speech is never absolute, although nobody can know what you think if you do not express it, so freedom of thought is clearly universal.

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    Yes, of course you are right regarding things like the Secrets Act etc., revealing confidential material and so on. Are there such limitations in the private sphere though? With internet chat, especially in the case of flirting or 'cybering', there isn't really an exchange of information in the above sense, but more a stimulation of each other's imaginaton. While I don't deny that such behaviour may hurt your partner's feelings, I do think that this precedent is dangerous because it means that the law has access to how you perceive written matter. Even though in this case it was used as supporting evidence, as lexico mentioned, I dare say there is potential for misuse. Nobody can say with authority how I personally react to, or interpret written matter, and in what spirit I may write private correspondence. Even if two people have an intimate conversation, only those particular individuals know to what extent that speech act has emotional weight or what the chances of a physical act occurring are. In any case, these are details and rules that should be set by the parties involved, not the legal system. As an example, here in Australia, some older ladies have a tendency to call everyone "darling", but it is understood that this has no romantic or intimate overtones, and is just a casual term with no particular emotional weight. What if a court suddenly ruled that using such words implied an intimate relationship and was therefore a sign of infidelity?

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    You must always be careful with what you type the 'thought police' are always reading so if you have something really important to say say it to a human being directly. With your mouth.

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    Belgian court rule that erotic online chat is ground for divorce

    Belgium already has the 2nd highest divorce rate in Europe after the UK (and highest 'per marriage'). It is hardly surprising when we see what can constitute a valid reason for divorce. Have a look at the following article :

    Virtual sex is 'grounds for divorce', say judges

    I could agree that people participating to sexy chat with other people on the Internet is "not compatible with the respect they owed their spouse", but does it constitute a valid claim for divorce ?

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