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#27539 - 11/23/10 11:06 PM Custody agreements and morality clauses
CajunRose
Member

Registered: 11/09/10
Posts: 7533
Loc: TX
4-1

My H and I have two kids, D4 and S1. Both sets of our parents are divorced, and my dad was a serial dater. When I was pregnant with the eldest, we agreed to put rules in place to limit our kids' exposure to revolving girlfriends by basically saying no unmarried couples sleeping in the same room in our home, and grandparents could not bring girl/boyfriends to our home unless they were engaged or living together; otherwise the kids would have to meet those SOs at the grandparents' home.

Now H and I are getting divorced. I will be the primary caretaker, but we will have joint conservatorship, meaning we both get to make the big decisions for them, but the kids live with me 60% of the time. I want to add a morality clause to the custody agreement that states no overnight romantic guests while the children are in the home. H is adamantly opposed to this - says he doesn't know if he wants to get married again but doesn't want to say that for the next 17 years he won't want to live with a serious girlfriend. He promises he won't bring random guests over, that he's just anticipating a potential live-in girlfriend sometime in the future. For the most part, I believe him, but I don't see why I should just blindly trust that he's going to stick to that over the next 17 years. And even if he does, I'm going to have a hard enough time teaching my kids to value marriage without them seeing Daddy live with random woman.

I feel the morality clause enforces the morals that H and I were trying to instill in our children, and that leaving the marriage and not getting married again are choices he is making/will make. His choices for his life shouldn't overrule the choices we had made together for the kids, and the morals they would have been given if H had decided to invest in the marriage. H feels like I'm trying to control how he lives his life, and that he should have equal say in how to raise our children, and that this may not be a moral he wants to teach them anymore. He doesn't think he should have to agree to any particular behavior for the next 17 years.

I would really appreciate other perspectives.


Edited by LovingAnyway (12/12/10 02:56 PM)
Edit Reason: added tag
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#27551 - 11/23/10 11:36 PM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: CajunRose]
kilted_thrower
Member

Registered: 09/09/10
Posts: 913
I won't speak for the morality of lovers coming over or not. I do know that while my divorce to my exwife was in the process, neither of us were allowed to live with another person.

I don't believe that they extend after the divorce is final or if that can even be mandated. So I'm not sure if 8 years down the road he can be blocked for deciding to live with someone that...let's say he's been dating for five years.

I do think it's extremely important to be careful about whom you let come over when you have children. There are very bad people out there. And the other sticky issue is that children can get attached quite easily sometimes. It's never good to bring someone else only for them to disappear after the kids bond with them. Yes, kids are resiliant; however, we are resonsible for their emotional and physical health.
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#27569 - 11/24/10 12:10 AM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: kilted_thrower]
ShockedOne
Member

Registered: 11/10/10
Posts: 1177
I understand the dilemma, but I don't know that it is fully enforceable. That would be the expertise of a lawyer.

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#27571 - 11/24/10 12:13 AM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: CajunRose]
flowmom
Member

Registered: 11/19/10
Posts: 6821
I can very much sympathize with your POV. However, having been separated for 11 months I've come to realize a few things.

1. The coparenting relationship is different than being married parents. Coparents have less control over the other parent's parenting style -- there is a lot of letting go involved. I have personally found it more productive to tackle issues as they come up rather than trying to control things overall by exacting agreements. I only bring up stuff that is a really big deal to me. I suspect STBXH of spending time with my children, a possible girlfriend, and her children. At first I was horrified, then I realized that the situation isn't damaging them (it helps that I know her and feel she's generally a good mother).

2. When I first confronted the idea of STBXH having a girlfriend and exposing my children to her, I was freaked out. My trust was broken by the separation and the shock of it. Eventually I realized that he is still the same man as a father. He may have different judgement calls on things than I do, but he does care about how his actions affect the children. I don't really have a choice but to trust him and work with him to damage control how this is affecting the kids.

3. Initially, I didn't anticipate that *I* would want to be moving on romantically. I've been dating for 3 months and I have a boyfriend. He has never met my children (and I haven't met his) but he's stayed overnight several times when my children are sleeping. This new relationship has been a wonderful gift to me, and has brought me fun and joy at a time when I am facing a lot of yuckky life stuff. I imagine that my children will eventually meet him if things continue. Yes, there are risks to that and I won't do it lightly.

4. Although it will be hard to see STBXH move on romantically, I've realized that my children will be best served by having parents who are happy and stable. If that involves my children being exposed to a long term partner of his, I think that the advantages may outweigh the disadvantages.

IMO, your children will learn most about how you and their father lives out your values in day to day life. Agreements don't create those values, and nor are they likely to stick in the event that life happens.
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#27577 - 11/24/10 12:25 AM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: flowmom]
CajunRose
Member

Registered: 11/09/10
Posts: 7533
Loc: TX
In Texas, morality clauses are not uncommon, and tend to deal only with overnight guests. If one parent breaks it, the other can take them to court to have the visitation or custody arrangements changed. I know one couple who did not marry but lived together for several years and had a baby; when they broke up the morality clause was inserted into their custody agreement. I don't think there is a legal case in this state for limiting who the children meet, and I would not push for that.
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Married(2) to Night. D8, D6, S4

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Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. - Theodor Geisel

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#27580 - 11/24/10 12:31 AM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: flowmom]
Larry
Member

Registered: 09/03/10
Posts: 5380
Loc: Texas
Cajun:

You will hear conflicting advice. None of us know your husband like you do. And none of us know the Judge who will hear your case like your lawyer does or how the law works in your State, which I guess is Louisiana.

Your husband is going to view the morals clause as controlling and he would be right from his POV, not necessarily from yours, which if I understand your background, is why you are pushing for it.

An assortment of "Uncles" and "Aunts" wandering in and out of dad and mom's lives is not a good thing, in my mind. So in my mind, it is appropriate. But may not be possible.

Do keep in mind that reopening up a divorce case is expensive down the road. Get as much done now as you can.
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#27583 - 11/24/10 12:38 AM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: Larry]
CajunRose
Member

Registered: 11/09/10
Posts: 7533
Loc: TX
In the 10 years I was married, my dad was married 3 times (twice to the same woman), engaged an additional time, and briefly lived with another woman. I don't want that for my children.

Will my H do that? Probably not, but I don't know him anymore.

I am in Texas - I'll ask the lawyer when I see her next week.
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Married(2) to Night. D8, D6, S4

About me

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. - Theodor Geisel

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#27882 - 11/24/10 02:10 PM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: CajunRose]
CajunRose
Member

Registered: 11/09/10
Posts: 7533
Loc: TX
I proposed a compromise - no overnight visits by romantic partner UNLESS said partner had lived with parent for 6 months+. During that first 6 months, the live-in partner would not be able to stay overnight with the parent while the kids were around. This makes sure that our kids are only exposed to that type of relationship when we are more sure that it will last. H agreed and said he had been about to propose a similar compromise.

Thanks for the other perspectives.
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Married(2) to Night. D8, D6, S4

About me

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. - Theodor Geisel

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#27886 - 11/24/10 02:16 PM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: CajunRose]
40andsadintexas
Member

Registered: 11/09/10
Posts: 357
Loc: Texas
Like it or not every custody case in my county comes with a morality clause, and yes I have been told it is enforceable. I don't have a problem with it, that the fight I am fighting right now 7 men 6 months.
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M40, W 37
M 11 1/2 y
T 13 y
D filed 5-18-10
S 5-29-10 OM1 discovered 6-5-10
Counter sued for d 6-16-10
OM2 discovered 8-10-10
OM3, OM4
4 kids 10, 7, & 4
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#27952 - 11/24/10 03:52 PM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: 40andsadintexas]
CajunRose
Member

Registered: 11/09/10
Posts: 7533
Loc: TX
40, you of all people needs a morality clause. I'm glad it is standard in your county.
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Married(2) to Night. D8, D6, S4

About me

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. - Theodor Geisel

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#28139 - 11/24/10 09:47 PM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: CajunRose]
flowmom
Member

Registered: 11/19/10
Posts: 6821
Originally Posted By: CajunRose
I proposed a compromise - no overnight visits by romantic partner UNLESS said partner had lived with parent for 6 months+. During that first 6 months, the live-in partner would not be able to stay overnight with the parent while the kids were around. This makes sure that our kids are only exposed to that type of relationship when we are more sure that it will last. H agreed and said he had been about to propose a similar compromise.
How would that work if a potential romantic partner of yours had his own children...he would live with you but not stay overnight (except on nights that their father has them)? Maybe I am not understanding this arrangement?
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#28617 - 11/26/10 02:37 PM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: flowmom]
Don Man Don
Member

Registered: 11/26/10
Posts: 930
You need to 180 your way of thinking.

You are trying to control your husband's post divorce lifestyle. Is this just more of the same behavior that did not work?

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#28649 - 11/26/10 04:01 PM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: Don Man Don]
kimmie lee
Member

Registered: 11/08/10
Posts: 2744
Loc: SEATTLE, WA
Originally Posted By: Don Man Don
You need to 180 your way of thinking.

You are trying to control your husband's post divorce lifestyle. Is this just more of the same behavior that did not work?


Who are you talking to?
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It sits looking
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#28774 - 11/26/10 09:50 PM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: flowmom]
CajunRose
Member

Registered: 11/09/10
Posts: 7533
Loc: TX
Originally Posted By: flowmom
Originally Posted By: CajunRose
I proposed a compromise - no overnight visits by romantic partner UNLESS said partner had lived with parent for 6 months+. During that first 6 months, the live-in partner would not be able to stay overnight with the parent while the kids were around. This makes sure that our kids are only exposed to that type of relationship when we are more sure that it will last. H agreed and said he had been about to propose a similar compromise.
How would that work if a potential romantic partner of yours had his own children...he would live with you but not stay overnight (except on nights that their father has them)? Maybe I am not understanding this arrangement?


I don't believe in living together outside of marriage, so I don't *think* this will be an issue for me. If it reaches that point with H, then we may have to further discuss.
_________________________
Married(2) to Night. D8, D6, S4

About me

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. - Theodor Geisel

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#28777 - 11/26/10 10:08 PM Re: Custody agreements and morality clauses [Re: CajunRose]
flowmom
Member

Registered: 11/19/10
Posts: 6821
You and your H have 17 years of raising dependent children ahead of you, and you are both still pretty young. I hope for your sake that your H will be a responsible father, no matter what -- that's not something that a morality clause can really create or enforce. As for you...you may want to keep an open mind about what the future might bring in your life. I'm not suggesting that you change your values, it's just that life is unpredictable.
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