Cyber romances totter in real world

16:52, June 01, 2010      

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You see them in awkward first embraces in airport international arrival halls: The would-be couples who met on the Internet, fell in love in cyberspace and are meeting for the first time in the real world.

When all goes well with these Web-based romances, and the couple take the plunge and decide to live together, the upheaval can be immense. Not just new towns but new countries, new languages, new religions and new passports.

And what goes for the adults goes extra for kids. If there are children from previous marriages they might be made to shift continents and leave most of their past and friends behind and become separated from a former mom or dad by any number of time zones.

The times are gone when the new partner was likely to live in the next street or the next town, when the children could stay in their schools and an access visit meant a different car at the school gates on a Friday afternoon.

In Australia, plagued by the tyranny of distance more than most countries, the divorce courts are dealing with more and more cases where parents are at odds over the continents on which children should live.

Sydney University researchers have followed 40 women and 40 men involved in 71 relocation cases over the last four years. They found that online dating is putting an average of 1,646 kilometers between children and the parent left behind after a marriage bust-up.

In the study, published in the US journal Family Law Quarterly, the cost of maintaining contact with children was sometimes $13,800 a year. And yet the cost of getting into the new relationship was just cents.

As researchers Patrick Parkinson, Judy Cashmore and Judi Single wrote in their article: "Internet-based introduction services have radically increased the opportunities for separated parents to meet new people and the connections thus formed are supported by very cheap modes of communication such as email, internet chat programs and Web-based telephone or video communication."

In Australia, it is the Family Court that is the arbiter of where children from broken homes get to live because the law rules on custody issues and access rights. It is usually the mother who wants to move and often it is the court that decides whether she can or not.

Source: China Daily


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