Legal Ramifications of a Boyfriend or Girlfriend Staying Overnight
A morality clause is a legal stipulation that can be ordered during divorce and even after divorce as part of a custody order. Basically, the clause prohibits someone the parent is dating or romantically involved with from staying overnight. This order applies when the children are in the home at night. However, it does not apply during the daytime. Collin County incorporates the morality clause as a standing order for divorce cases.
What Is the Purpose of a Morality Clause?
Keep in mind that “the best interest of the child” is the guideline that Texas Courts use for child custody and parenting. In most cases, divorce is unsettling for children. It interrupts their usual day-to-day living, their routines, and can make life feel unpredictable. Waking up in the morning and finding Mom or Dad’s boyfriend or girlfriend in the bathroom or kitchen can have a negative psychological effect on children. This is especially true when they’re young or in their preteen years.
Even though the order automatically stands during divorce, divorcing couples can decide whether or not to continue it after divorce.
Is the Clause Difficult to Enforce?
If violated, you have to decide whether the expense and effort to enforce it is warranted. Hiring a private investigator or having witnesses testify may be necessary. Proving that a guest stayed overnight would be necessary to show violation. Also, if your kids are the only witnesses, dragging them into a legal battle is typically not in their best interests. It would only increase conflict. Psychologists will tell you that conflict is generally more damaging than the divorce itself.
If the love interest has moved in, but the couple isn’t married, this is not as difficult to prove. The court may order the person to move out.
Do you have questions about complying with a morality clause or how it might affect your case? Speak with one of our attorneys at Richardson Brown and we can address your concerns.