A Massachusetts lawmaker has set forth a bill that would ban parents from having sex in their own homes while divorce papers are pending. The bill would also not allow a parent to bring a date home without a judge’s permission.
Almost immediately, the pending legislation stirred up controversy on Beacon Hill and the legal community with many seeing it as an unnecessary case of government overreach.
Mirick O’Connell’s Cici Van Tine, a divorce attorney, spoke on the issue with Fox 25 last week, calling the bill “unconstitutional” and said “it’s so poorly worded, you could drive a truck through all of the holes that are in it.”
“I will say, I think what the gentleman [author of bill] was trying to do, was address issues where children ought not to see their parents with significant others early in a relationship,” Van Tine said. “But the courts already have that handled, and I don’t think this legislation would solve that problem.”
Van Tine continued: “Whenever there’s an issue where you have children in the home, and they’re of an age where seeing a parent dating early in a divorce would cause them problems, it’s brought to the court’s attention. And if the parties can’t agree themselves, the courts will order that the parties refrain from introducing a significant other to the children until the divorce is final.”
Indeed, the bill is not expected to pass, but it does raise some interesting points regarding when the appropriate time is to introduce your little ones to new boyfriends or girlfriends.
A Grieving Process
Conventional wisdom and research indicates that it isn’t usually a good idea to enter into a new serious relationship with or without children before your divorce forms are final. But for children, it’s even more difficult because they don’t have the emotional development in place to deal with matters of the heart.
“Divorce is tough on children,” says Nancy Van Tine for the Massachusetts Divorce Law Monitor. “They need to go through the grieving process, just like their parents. And since, hopefully, they learned about the divorce after their parents, it’s going to take them longer to adjust.”
Ideally, Nancy states, “parents will agree on when the kids should become aware the parents are dating. Then they should also agree on when they will let the kids know they are in a serious relationship, which probably should not occur until after the divorce. Kids are very literal – married means married in their minds – and a lot of parent/child problems can flow from doing this wrong.”
If you’ve decided to file for divorce, there may be a temptation to get back out there and “move on,” but when kids are present, you have to be more careful with how quickly you decide to move. After all, it’s not just your own happiness and stability that you’re responsible for. Your actions will deeply affect your children, too. But bills like the one in Massachusetts — well-meaning or not — don’t stand much chance of becoming law, nor should they. Your relationships are your relationships, and in a free society, it’s hard to justify turning over that freedom to a legal body. What do you guys think? Is this law bogus, and when should you bring a significant other into your children’s lives?