Supreme Judicial Court, March 13, 2013

In this civil case, the Supreme Judicial Court updated the legal definition of “substantive dating relationship” to include relationships conducted electronically.  The Court found that a “substantial dating relationship” existed between a 16-year-old girl and a 24-year-old man who communicated regularly for three months using email, instant messaging and Skype. 

The Court found that the relationship involved “real-time” electronic exchanges and face-to-face interactions, which increased the level of intimacy in the relationship.  The Court noted that its decision “reflects the changing nature of relationships and, specifically, the fact that an increasing number of relationships, including ones involving teenagers, are being conducted electronically….Chapter 209A must be interpreted to protect all who are in a substantive dating relationship from abuse, regardless of whether the relationship was developed or conducted by the use of technology.”