Shielding the Kids in Divorce

Aug 8, 2012 by

The state of Massachusetts made divorce news recently when lawmakers there drafted a new bill proposing to terminate the state’s lifetime alimony awards. However, that bill would not affect current Massachusetts laws governing child support payments or child custody, nor does it address any other children’s issues as pertains to divorce. Now the lawmakers on Massachusetts’ Beacon Hill have come up with another new bill that does attempt to improve conditions for dependant children stuck in households going through bitter divorce battles.

The new bill seeks to prohibit divorcing parents from engaging in sexual relationships within the home until a divorce becomes final. The move is an effort to better protect the children by reducing the incidence of domestic violence and overall general mayhem that often occurs in households caught in the turmoil of a failed marriage and divorce event.

The exact language in Massachusetts Bill S00851says:

Section 31 of chapter 208 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2004 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph –

In divorce, separation, or 209A proceedings involving children and a marital home, the party remaining in the home shall not conduct a dating or sexual relationship within the home until a divorce is final and all financial and custody issues are resolved, unless the express permission is granted by the courts.

Although the intent to shield children from divorce fallout is commendable, this bill may have a more difficult time passing than the proposal to end lifetime alimony awards as many critics of Bill S00851 point out that the ban on sex in the home violates parent’s rights on several levels.

Moving a bit farther West, it seems the movement to protect kids from the impacts of divorce have spread to Indiana where judges there have proposed new rules to protect children from the emotional conflicts that often come with the breakdown of a relationship. Judges in the Tippecanoe County Superior Court in northern Indiana are backing a proposal that would require divorcing spouses and their attorneys to improve communication and try to resolve disagreements with less vitriol.

They feel the proposal is needed because although all Indiana counties are required to have local court rules regarding divorce, Tippecanoe County does not, and all divorces are overseen solely by judges. All other Indiana courts require divorcing parents to attend a parenting workshop before their divorce is finalized or within 30 days from the issue of a divorce decree. The new proposal for Tippecanoe County is based on a model that has been used successfully in another Indiana county for several years, and there’s a good chance the new rules will be approved by mid-summer. The renewed efforts to protect kids in both Massachusetts and Indiana are positive signs for the future. Any legislation that encourages divorcing parents to step back and assign more importance to their children’s well-being during very the stressful time of divorce is a good thing.


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