Breathtaking developments in technology in recent years have dramatically transformed the lives of people in Arkansas and elsewhere throughout the nation and world.

That is especially true in the realm of online technology, which has rendered the daily lives of people so starkly different from just a few years ago that the recent past looks less like a relic that it does pure science fiction.

That technology has been used for myriad purposes. People are closely linked to their computers to get work done, to communicate with family members, to shop, to play games, to watch movies and to indulge themselves in numerous other activities.

As noted by a columnist in a recent media article, one of those activities in a growing number of cases is engagement in so-called “virtual infidelity,” which is beginning to have a sizable impact on areas of concern in family law.

One of those areas is divorce itself, a process that is being initiated ever more often by spouses discovering that their partners have been surreptitiously engaging in sex-related activities with other persons on the Internet. Those activities range from sexting and the use of Facebook to post explicit photos and messages to participation in webcam encounters and through assorted virtual-sex sites.

The question posed by columnist Andrew Feldstein is this: Does such engagement, typically conducted online, from afar and sometimes anonymously, truly constitute infidelity? Is it cheating?

Is it grounds for divorce?

As noted by Feldstein, many courts are certainly looking into such activities when they are asked to consider them in family law contests. Obsessive computer behavior — sexually related and otherwise — has been deemed a relevant factor in child custody cases (the issue going to a spouse’s fitness as a parent). If that engagement is pricey, it might also be a consideration in post-divorce matters relating to child support, spousal maintenance and other issues.

The bottom line with what Feldstein calls “the slippery slope of obsession” is that excessive computer use for any reason can reasonably find itself under scrutiny by a family law court.

Source: Huffington Post, “Is cybersex grounds for divorce?” Andrew Feldstein, Jan. 8. 2014