Texas Morality Clause – Definition
It is not uncommon for a morality clause to be slapped on divorcing spouses in Texas. The morality clause is a prohibition against a parent allowing their romantic partner to spend the night, or being in the family home during overnight hours while a divorce process is ongoing or after divorce. Overnight hours are sometimes described as between 10:00 pm to 7:00 am. Generally, a morality clause is meant to create a stable environment and continue the normal the children were used to before the divorce process began.
Once a morality clause is included in a divorce settlement it will be enforced just like the other terms of the divorce involving things such as property division, child support, and more.
Dangers of Morality Clause
It is very important for parties involved in a divorce to study the morality clause carefully before they sign it. For example, it should at least have a reasonable time limit because if it doesn’t, it may last until the child turns 18 years of age. A woman learned this the hard way in 2013 when a Texas judge ruled that she was not allowed to live with her same-sex partner in the same house while maintaining custody of her children.
It turns out that in 2011, while divorcing her husband, she agreed to a morality clause that was included in their divorce settlement. However, she did not obey that clause and her ex took her to court because he wanted the morality clause to be enforced. So, agreeing to a morality clause could make it hard for you to move on with your life after the divorce is finalized. Remember that a morality clause applies to all people who enter into new relationships after a divorce, not just same-sex couples.
Purpose of the Morality Clause
It only works if both parents are law-abiding because they are principled or fear the consequences of being held in contempt of the court. It is not uncommon for parents to find a way to continue their new relationships because they cannot be put on 24-hour surveillance. However, the idea behind a morality clause is actually noble. This is because it gives the children time to deal with the after-effects of the divorce without having to adapt to a new adult figure in their lives. Mom and dad remain the only adult figures that matter in their lives. However, a morality clause does not prohibit a parent’s love interest from being around the kids as long as they do not spend the night. In addition, morality clauses are not all the same and depend on the parties that are involved in the divorce.
You should also know that it costs a lot for you to craft a morality clause. The reason for this is that your lawyer will bill you for the hours spent negotiating, drafting, and reviewing the clause. Apart from that, you may find it hard to explain to the kids that you are suing their parent for not abiding to a morality clause. It could complicate your relationship with them and jeopardize that sense of stability you hoped a morality clause would preserve.