Since January 1st 2018, the online divorce firm Divorce-Online.co.uk has received 200 divorce petitions citing online games as being one of the reasons for seeking a divorce. The company has said it believes the trend to be on the up because the addictive nature of the games can lead to a relationship breakdown.
This internet-age relationship problem may continue to grow as access to online gaming expands. However, comparatively speaking these numbers remain small, with gaming-related divorces accounting for only 5% of the inquiries received by the company during the same period. The divorce landscape is changing, with fewer millennials getting married and internet-related reasons for divorce are naturally on the rise due to the amount of time people spend online.
Online divorce for online addiction
The online divorce company crunched its data to establish what is driving its clients towards divorce. It found that online gambling, gaming such as Fortnite and online porn were cited 200 times since January.
In a statement, the firm said: “Fortnite is all over the news right now as one of the most addictive digital games ever played [but] it’s not only teenagers that are being affected by its drug-like qualities. It is affecting relationships and marriages.”
The group went on to say that digital addictions are forming part of the some of the more common grounds for divorce: drug addiction, alcohol and gambling (in person). The addictive nature of online gaming has the ability to have an impact on families in a similar way to traditional addictions that have always been common grounds for divorce.
Addictions often cause financial and emotional strains on relationships and can cause those suffering from addiction to become alienated from the family unit.
Thousands spent online
The nature of online gambling and gaming makes it easy to spend large amounts of money online over a short period of time and leaves no physical evidence of addiction until bank statements are delivered. In an earlier statement, Divorce-Online.co.uk stated that in 2016 more than 40% of divorce petitions it received included gambling as one of the grounds for divorce.
With gambling addiction on the rise across the country the trend looks set to continue, with the addition of non-gambling online gaming also affecting relationships, according to figures.
In 2013 gambling was only mentioned in 1 in 15 divorce petitions, so the trend is already growing at an alarming rate. The divorce firm has speculated that the rise in addiction being cited by its clients could also be due to fixed odds betting terminals being so popular and those who can’t get their fix from those anymore transferring their addiction online instead.
It is worth noting that the figures only include uncontested divorces filed at the firm, meaning they only apply to couples who have agreed not to defend the divorce. The firm suspects that people could be seeking uncontested divorces instead of contesting them as a result of a lack of funds caused by the gambling addiction in the first place.
Gambling addiction causes not only financial strain. Much as with other addictions, those who are addicted to gambling can become withdrawn, suffer from low self-esteem and have trouble controlling their anger. The combined effects of gambling addiction are such that the habit has now joined other traditional addictions such as alcohol and drugs as a ground for divorce.
Recently, the UK charity Gambling Harm announced a new study as it revealed that there are 430,000 problem gamblers in the UK, including 25,000 children in the 11-to-16 age group. Overall, it is thought that around 370,000 children in that age bracket gamble every week.