A morality clause basically prohibits a parent from allowing someone they are dating or in a romantic relationship with from staying overnight if the parent has children.
Using the Morality Clause to Prevent Sleepovers
People in the process of a divorce or that have just had their divorce finalized are the ones that often seek to obtain a “morality clause”.
In some counties in Texas, there is a standing order that automatically puts the morality clause in place while parents are going through a divorce. These include counties such as Jasper County, Kaufman County, Fannin County, Erath County, and more.
The intention of a morality clause is to protect children from exposure to a revolving door of new boyfriends or girlfriends. The idea is to provide routine, stability, and consistency for children. The clause has good intentions, but it may limit a parent’s ability to form new relationships and is not easy to enforce.
Is the Texas Morality Clause Legal?
It is only effective if the parents do not violate the clause.
Another way it is effective is that it prevents the children from having to deal with the creation of a new family when the divorce process is still going. Some may even argue that the morality clause forces the divorcing parents to think more about their children while going through the divorce process.
However, if the parents view morality clause as an intrusion into their lives, they may find creative ways to get around the clause.
Remember that the clause only prevents the new boyfriend or girlfriend from staying the night not from interacting with the children. Even if there is a time limit for “overnight” people will find ways to get around that.
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Is the Morality Clause a Good Idea
This clause puts a lot of pressure on the parent that spends more time with the children. You may meet someone new that you care about, but the clause remains the same even if it’s months or years after the divorce.
The only way to change the court order is if you go back to court, which is time-consuming and costs money. You cannot violate the court order just because it has been years after your divorce.
The judge will not be sympathetic to you if you break a court order no matter how ridiculous it may seem several years later.
This is why you will be better off not agreeing to a morality clause. You can agree on something that is less restrictive yet benefits the children. Do not agree to a morality clause that limits where you are allowed to stay geographically or that may prevent you from having a healthy new relationship.
A judge is not interested in what you do in your love life but only cares about enforcing the law. That means that a judge is less likely to add a morality clause to your divorce unless you agree to one. So think carefully and objectively before accepting a morality clause.
Think about how it will affect your future relationships, and always consult a lawyer before you agree to a morality clause.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I enforce the Texas Morality Clause in my Divorce Decree?
Different Texas counties have different rules regarding the morality clause. The intention of a morality clause is to protect children from exposure to a revolving door of new boyfriends or girlfriends. The idea is to provide routine, stability and consistency for children. The clause has good intentions but it may limit a parent’s ability to form new relationships, and is not easy to enforce. It’s best to discuss the issue directly with your attorney.
Doesn't the morality clause violate my constitutional rights?
This is certainly up for debate depending on how it is enforced. This is why you will be better off not agreeing to a morality clause. You can agree on something that is less restrictive yet benefits the children. Do not agree to a morality clause that limits where you are allowed to stay geographically or that may prevent you having a healthy new relationship.
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