Morality Clauses in Family Law

Some states routinely include a morality clause as part of a divorce case. A morality clause would prevent the parties from doing certain things following separation. In family law, the clause usually prevents either party from having a new partner stay overnight while minor children of the former marriage are present. Texas is one of the states that still routinely uses morality clauses in divorce actions. A recent decision in Collin County, Texas upheld a morality clause from a 2011 divorce ordering that the wife’s new partner vacate the home where two children from the marriage resided.

While morality clauses are not commonplace in Pennsylvania, they can be negotiated as part of an agreement in custody matters. Pennsylvania custody law dictates that the adult household members of the parties should be examined as part of the best interests of the child analysis. In some circumstances there may be clear cut reasons for wanting to restrict new partners from being around minor children such as criminal history or drug and/or alcohol abuse. In other instances, the parties just don’t want new people introduced into their children’s lives too quickly or only for a brief period based on the argument that the children need stability. Where the parties are entering an agreement they can put whatever restrictions they both agree to, however, if left to a Judge a party is more likely to be successful if there is a justification for the restriction rather than just a preference of one of the parties.

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