5 ways your VR divorce can hit you where it hurts, and how to fight back
"Our love is unreal."
It's been two years since VR marriage became legal in virtually every country, and the pro-VR rallying cry is still reverberating through cyberspace. But while the slogan once stood for open-mindedness and uninhibited affection, the words have now become a punch line for a seemingly flawed idea.
According to a recent Gallup poll, a dizzying 83 percent of VR marriages end in Mediated Digital Dissolution (MDD), which, among other things, proves that some "love" simply isn't real.
It also decides who "gets the family Bible," so to speak.
Of course, far be it from anyone to judge the validity of passion, virtual or otherwise, but as both VR marriage and divorce rates continue to climb, it's instructive to consider the ways in which a VR divorce can impact your life, and how you can come out on top if – or perhaps when – the worst happens.
So before you strap on your goggles and say, "I do," be sure to familiarize yourself with some humbling truths about VR divorce.
1. Your VR partner has rights to property s/he has never even seen or touched
In a survey of 20 MDD attorneys, 19 claimed that property rights are the No. 1 blind spot for VR couples. And the answer is always, "Yes, s/he can take the dog. Yes, I understand s/he's never seen it in real life." Or something along those lines.
As with traditional marriages, the easiest way to shield your assets from the MDD process is to sign prenuptial agreement with your future spouse.
2. There are no profile "do-overs"
So you're finally out of your ill-conceived VR marriage – time to hop back on the dating wagon, right? Well, yes, but your VR profile will be forever branded with a "Divorced" moniker. What's more, the data is coded into your biometric profile, which means you can't avoid the D-word simply by choosing a new user name.
The best way to combat a profile that's tainted by divorce is to be proactive: Rewrite your bio blurb to own your new identity and cleverly dismiss any concerns.
3. Custody is a crapshoot
Forget everything you thought you knew about custody battles. Whereas "real" courts will almost never take a child away from its mother, a child conceived in a virtual relationship can just as easily wind up with the father when MDD proceedings conclude.
In the absence of traditional child-rearing roles, a judge is mostly likely to grant custody to a parent who can provide the best route to social clout for the child. If you want custody, you'll need to prove that you not only have the follower-count but the wit and influence to coach your child to social media success.
4. You will lose some friends
Marriages have been ruining friendships for years, but the MyFriends application can remove friends from your life with alarming efficiency. We all know MyFriends as the groundbreaking "people filter" which allows you to exist in the virtual world without any unwanted interactions. However, what people don't realize is that after MDD, MyFriends will not only filter-out your spouse, but his or her friend group as well. That means, if after your friend group is divided in MDD, you will lose touch with some mutual friends forever.
We admit, this one is tricky, but the absolutely best way to avoid a total mutual-friend apocalypse is to be upfront (and humble) with your spouse about the people who are most important to you. MDD creates tension, for sure, but presenting a civil and levelheaded case can go a long way.
5. MDD isn't cheap
MDD is a fairly new phenomenon, and as a result, there are few lawyers who practice it. Unfortunately, that specialized legal representation will cost you a pretty penny – far more than a traditional divorce.
MDD lawyers are paid by the hour, and most of those hours are spent doing research. You can help mitigate some of those unnecessary hours by having your financial ducks in a row. Do some online research to determine what information your attorney will need, and show up to your first meeting with those documents ready to go.