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Proposed bill could impact Massachusetts child custody decisions

If disputes arise in a divorce, both the time and cost to the parties can increase exponentially. An experienced divorce attorney may have strategies for presenting issues to the other party in a manner that encourages resolutions without court involvement. Even in uncontested divorces, however, the time between an initial filing and the final divorce decree can take several months.

Given the potential time duration at stake, a bill recently introduced by State Sen. Richard Ross is likely to receive an unfavorable reception. In fact, even Sen. Ross’ staff clarified that he does not support the bill, but merely sponsored it as a courtesy to one of his constituents. 

According to the bill’s language, a parent that has continued to live in the marital home with children would be prohibited from having a dating or sexual relationship in that space during the pendency of a divorce or legal separation. The ban would lift only after a divorce has been finalized and any child custody or financial issues have been resolved. However, an exception to that prohibition could apply if a parent received express permission from the divorce court.

It’s unclear whether the rationale behind this proposed bill is really the best interest of a child. Although a divorce can be a time of adjustment and transition, the bill might only delay the inevitable adjustment a child may have to make to a parent’s new significant other. A divorce attorney may also question whether there are hidden motives, such as requiring a parent with a new relationship to forgo physical custody during the pendency of a divorce proceeding.  

Source: Huffington Post, “Massachusetts Bill Could Ban Sex During Divorce,” Emily Thomas, March 24, 2014

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