Bill in Massachusetts could make Sex during Divorce Illegal

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Bill in Massachusetts could make Sex during Divorce Illegal

If caught red handed between the sheets during your divorce, the law could have something to say about that if a new bill in Massachusetts passes, as it could make sex during divorce illegal. One stipulation of the proposed law is that you must have children living in the house with you and the divorce hasn’t been finalized yet. So after the divorce is finalized it’s perfectly legal to bring someone home if children are in the house, but it isn’t legal if divorce proceedings aren’t final? What kind of logic is that?

If a judge signs off on this tryst then you are off the hook, according to the bill. Wake a judge up in the middle of the night and see what kind of mood he is in to put his signature on an order like that. The bill actually reads like this “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.”

State Sen. Richard Ross (R) filed the bill in the early months of 2013. He did so for a constituent of his Wrentham Selectman Robert Leclair. This bill was extended in March and will be on the floor of the state legislature in June. Senator Ross filed it on behalf of his constituent but according to a report he does not “support it.” Leclair, once the president of Fathers United for Equal Justice and having gone through a bitter divorce, is the primary architect and promoter of this bill. According to Russia Today, Leclair spoke of the bill saying that the bill would safeguard children during the divorce process. This law would have to be approved by the state legislature and the governor in order to be passed into law, a prospect that seems rather unlikely.

Certainly this bill will have personal liberty advocates up in arms. But it seems to be merely a way for a powerful man to publicly humiliate his wife by way of forcing a politician to propose an unjust or quixotic bill. This bill is a waste of state legislature’s time and the taxpayer’s money. In addition, bills such as this make a mockery of the legislative process. Certainly everyone except Leclair finds this utterly ridiculous. We’ll see if a defamation suit is filed by his ex-wife in the aftermath of this menagerie. For advice on getting through your divorce read, Conscious Divorce: Ending a Marriage with Integrity by Susan Allison.

Mandatory Class for Those Getting Divorced in Oklahoma

divorce class

Mandatory Class for Those Getting Divorced in Oklahoma

A strange state law has arisen in Oklahoma, for those who want to get divorced they must take a mandatory class issued by the state. According to the newspaper the Tulsa World, “The program will cover resources available for families on subjects that include substance abuse, addiction, family violence, behavioral health, individual and couples counseling and financial planning.” These all sound like good things that could benefit the couple and society as well. However, some believe that Oklahoma is over-stretching its bounds. For instance, according to the same newspaper, “(Republican representative Jason) Nelson said broken homes have an impact on social services, the prison population and the school system. As a result, divorce affects all taxpayers.” But others are asking, is it really the state government’s business who gets divorced and who doesn’t? Should citizens be forced to take a class because they want a divorce? These are some thorny issues Oklahomans and others will have to sort through. The bill was written by Representative Nelson along with a State Senate Republican Rob Standridge, and was just recently signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. To add insult to injury, not only do couples with children under 18 years of age have to take the class but they also are forced to pay for it, as if the price tag of divorce wasn’t elevated enough. Nelson supported the now Oklahoma state law by saying, “It seems like a small thing to ask people to do — to take a course — when the challenges that come from divorce are so permanent.”

One problem detractors bring up is the stigma many children suffer, particularly in regions where “traditional family values” are so important. In a recent article in the Chicago Tribune Heidi Stevens argues “One class is one more example of the stigma we attach to kids of divorce as sad, broken future prison inmates.” Certainly more and more children are growing up in blended families, single parent families, same-sex families and other non-traditional families, all over the country and in all regions. What’s more, the Great Recession has seen more and more mothers and women become the breadwinners in their household while more and more men are stay at home dads raising the children. In this social atmosphere, does this class really seem necessary? Certainly resources should be made available to those who are entering into a divorce. But a mandatory class cheapens the hours, days and even months couples struggle over whether or not to get divorced, trying different things to save the marriage and coming to the painful conclusion that their union, which they believed would last the rest of their lives, is in fact coming to an end. It’s such a pivotal emotional process that no couple comes to lightly. But inherent in this law, that the class is mandatory is a message, that perhaps this couple didn’t think things through, and that message can be seen as insulting for so many who agonized about the end of their marital partnership.

Many people who do get divorced often site it as the right decision. Yet, still a lot of divorced people walk around with guilt. They feel like used goods or they feel broken. But this class further stigmatizes them. What’s more, the state representative saying that it’s a burden on society and the taxpayers further shames people who are going through a painful time in their life and want to move on. In terms of children, one of the most damaging things to them isn’t divorce but a conflict ridden home. A recent study out of the U.K. found that children growing up in single parent or step-parent homes were just as happy and well-adjusted as their counterparts in dual parent homes. Yet, these parents who are deciding to divorce feel a slight pinch at this law, as they want to do what’s best for their child and believe they are doing the right thing. In an interview with Reuters Standridge said, “If you are going through the whole divorce process and have kids, if we can do anything to keep people together, we should. Marriage is a lifelong contract with the state and with your children.” Certainly a conflict ridden household is less stable for the children. And what message will you be sending them, that it is okay to stay with someone who doesn’t make you happy? We will see if this law holds up or if a couple will challenge its constitutionality. But today it is the law of the land. If you are contemplating divorce, read Before You Throw in the Towel: Twelve Things You Should Consider Before Filing for a Divorce by Bob Moorehead.

State Law Determines What Is Considered Unfit Parenting

Law Unfit Parenting

According to the American Bar Association, state law considers unfit parents as those who don’t maintain regular contact with their children and/or do not provide some level of support to them, financial or otherwise.  Abusive behavior and inadequate care of one’s child also warrant an unfit parental status.

The popular assumption is that if an individual is considered an unfit parent, they will have limited and possibly monitored visitations with their children.  This isn’t always the case, however.  Many parents who are abusive will surpass the unfit parental status due to being a better provider overall for their children.  Mothers who are victims of domestic violence, for instance, often suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, which usually leaves a negative impression on the court regarding their parental capabilities.

It cannot be assumed that parents who fall under the unfit category will not gain custody or unsupervised visitation of their children, because within a single family both parents could be unfit by legal standards.  There are no parenting classes or exams that individuals are required to take before having children, and so it often happens that courts see families that contain two unfit parents.  Unless there’s an obvious amount of abuse or neglect, the children will likely not be taken from their parents.  The courts will make decisions based on what they feel is in the best interest of the children involved, but this will be limited to what each parent is capable of providing for their children, not to what the children should ideally receive.