A Massachusetts state senator has filed a bill that could prohibit a divorcing parent from having sex in his or her own home. The bill states: “In divorce, separate, 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.”
There is an ongoing dialogue among lawyers, judges and mental health professionals as to when it is appropriate to introduce a child to a divorcing or divorced parent’s new significant other. Obviously there are many factors and considerations that should go into such a parenting decision such as the age or maturity of the child, timing vis a vis the parents’ separation, seriousness of the new relationship, etc. The controlling standard at some level is what is in the child’s best interests. Many Probate and Family Court judges under certain circumstances will consider entering temporary orders restraining a divorcing litigant from bringing a minor child in the company of a person with whom he or she is in a dating relationship while a divorce is pending.
Bill 787 goes far beyond creating a reasonable barrier between a minor child and a parent’s new boyfriend or girlfriend during a period of change/transition for a minor child. Bill 787 in its present form purports to mandate that a divorcing parent can not conduct a dating or sexual relationship within the marital home until a divorce is final and all financial and custody issues are resolved, unless the express permission is granted by the Court. Bill 787 does not seem to prohibit sex or a dating relationship with a third party in any venues outside of the marital home or limit contact between a minor child and a divorcing parent’s new significant other. Bill 787 seems to try to protect the “sanctity” of the marital home versus the significance of being sensitive to a child’s needs during a period of transition. Bill 787 seems to miss the mark.