According to a survey from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, approximately 56% of those surveyed agreed that there is a connection between online pornography addiction and the high rate of divorce. According to a study, conducted by Dr. Samuel Perry and Dr. Cyrus Schleifer of the University of Oklahoma, the likelihood of divorce roughly doubles for individuals who begin pornography use.
Experts say that the chemical response of the brain to pornography may be similar to that of highly addictive narcotics such as heroin or morphine. When people view pornography, their brain-level response may include increased levels of endorphins or other chemicals that create positive sensations. As the addiction progresses, the viewer needs to increase their viewing time to reach the same high, a reaction similar to those addicted to drugs. It is important to note that addiction to pornography is not recognized by the DSM-5 as a non-substance-related disorder.
When any addictive behavior enters a marriage, the negative impact that ensues can manifest on a number of different levels. If one spouse develops an online sex addiction and the compulsive use of internet pornography, their behavior may affect the relationship over time by eroding marital trust and intimacy. And if their online activity is causing them to neglect their spouse, it is also likely that they may disregard other responsibilities such as their children, the marital home, or their job, which will also contribute to increased levels of marital tension and stress.
How Does Internet Pornography Affect a Colorado Divorce?
Due to the fact that Colorado is a “No Fault” state, a spouse’s addiction to pornography will not likely have any legal impact on the division of marital assets or a maintenance award.
If, however, there are minor children involved and a parenting plan must be drafted, the addiction could affect the allocation of parental rights. When children are involved, the following considerations should be addressed:
- Is there evidence to prove that the addicted parent’s preoccupation with internet pornography has caused him or her to neglect the children?
- Has the addicted parent’s relationship with the children become impaired due to his or her involvement with online pornography?
- Has the addicted parent exposed the children to pornography?
- Has the addicted parent made, or is willing to make, any behavioral changes?
It is also possible that a parenting evaluation may be requested to determine whether the problematic behavior of the addicted parent negatively impacts his or her parenting ability or the safety of the children.
Furthermore, if there is evidence that one parent routinely engages in viewing child pornography, that parent could face criminal charges.
Seeking Support for the Addiction
Unlike other addictions, an addiction to pornography may not be one that even concerns the user due to the fact that their access to online adult sites and/or chat rooms does not require time away from the marital home and does not cost a significant amount of money. These two reasons alone are often enough to convince the user that their activity is harmless. Additionally, the addicted spouse may feel their behavior is relatively innocuous due to the anonymity of being online. For the spouse who does recognize that his or her addictive behavior is creating marital problems, however, personal and couple’s counseling is a viable option.
Seeking Support for Divorce
For the spouse who has made the difficult decision to terminate the marriage, seeking the help of an experienced Colorado family law attorney is a wise choice. As you embark on the process, you will also need to solicit the help and support of your family and friends. Because internet porn addiction is a difficult issue to discuss, you may wish to confide in a licensed therapist who has experience with this type of issue.
To arrange for a consultation with one of the 20 family law attorneys at The Harris Law Firm, give us a call at 303-622-5502. With offices in Denver, Englewood and Evergreen we can arrange for a consultation for you right away.