Lawmakers in Massachusetts are considering a bill that would prohibit people from dating or having a sexual relationship within their home while they are going through the process of getting a divorce.
An Act relative to divorce, Bill S.787, was filed by State Sen. Richard Ross, a Republican from Wrentham, on behalf of former Wrentham Selectman Robert LeClair.
Under the legislation, couples going through proceedings that involve children and a marital home would not be allowed to conduct relationships within the home until the divorce was finalized and custody issues were resolved. The only exception would be if they received "express permission" from the courts.
Query: Does this mean such activity is to be precluded when the children are around? Or even when the children are in the other parents home for the entire summer?
Some Courts in Texas insert a "morality clause" into their orders that prohibits a parent from having someone with whom they have an intimate relationship stay at the house between the hours of 10 pm and 8 am.
So we'll see if Massachusetts follows.
See the article here.
We always tell our clients to be careful with their social media posts. But we seldom think about what their child might post.
In a non family law case where the parent had won a settlement, the child's post on Facebook days later caused the parent's settlement to be voided.
You see, Patrick Snay, the former headmaster of a school in Florida, had sued the school (Gulliver) for discrimination, and had agreed to an $80,000 settlement. And one of the terms of the settlement was CONFIDENTIALITY or non disclosure.
Such non disclosure provisions are common in litigation; they are also common in Divorce and Custody cases. But that is for another day.
Snay's daughter posted the following to her 1200+ Facebook friends “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”
Through some of her 1200 friends, the post made its way back to Gulliver's officials and lawyers, who asserted that the post violated the confidentiality provisions of the agreement, and should void the agreement.
And the agreement was set aside by a court of appeals.
So be careful what you tell your child about your personal business--especially if the child is active in social media!
There are potential lessons for a family law case here. The Dallas Divorce Courts' Standing Orders and Temporary Injunctions issued in a divorce or other family law case have provisions that prevent either parent from involving the children in the divorce. The best parents in a divorce rehearse with a counselor how to tell the kids about the divorce, and tell them that the divorce is not about them, that both parents love them, and both parents are committed to make the transition to two households as smooth as possible. And give support to the kids during the process, but not much opinion.
In other cases, one or both parents flame the other parent repeatedly in front of the children because of their anger or other issues that the parent has. many times such bad acts are brought before the Court, and dealt with in ways that are not liked by the flamers. I have seen sanctions all the way to a change of custody. An example of a flame could be: "We can't go to the movie tomorrow because your Daddy spent all the child support money on his [girlfriend][drugs][gambling] [boyfriend] [you pick--you get the point].
The Miami Herald story is here.
Is someone--like your teenager--using Facebook too much? You want to have them quit Facebook? You could try reaching into your wallet.
A research consultant in Boston paid his 14-year-old daughter a $200 fee to quit the social network until summer, according to a post on his blog that has been further reported on tech websites. The consultant, Paul Baier, posted an inage of the "Facebook Deactivation Agreement" he made with his daughter on this Tuesday.
Per the agreement (signed by both parties) the teen promised to deactivate her account on the social network from this past Monday until June 26, 2013. In return, Baier will pay his daughter $50 in April and the remaining $150 in June, at the end of the five months.
The teaching point for parents of teenagers is clear. But for those in a divorce or family law case, deactivating or de-publicizing Facebook or other social media accounts may be a very wise move. Then the "other side" can't get easy access to potentially damaging materials.
This does not mean deleting or terminating the account. The general rule is to deactivate, not terminate. TERMINATION of an account could be viewed as SPOLIATION, or the destroying of evidence. A lawyer in Virginia was ordered to pay $520,000 for his role in his client's DELETIONS from the client's Facebook account. A link to the Virginia Supreme Court case is here.
It's hard to imagine life without text messaging, e-mail, and social media. They help to make the world a smaller place. But they can also carry significant risks, especially when you find yourself in the middle of a legal proceeding such as a divorce. Firing off an angry e-mail, text, or tweet could have potential consequences in your case. With social media and electronic communications, the name of the game is think before you text.
Communication between spouses can be important evidence in a divorce case. E-mails and text messages can help show a judge or jury the real dynamics of a relationship, and potentially impeach a witness who is on their best behavior because they're in court. These are just a few examples of electronic evidence, which is an emerging area in Texas Family Law.
Once you send text, e-mail, or social media post, it is out of your control. Before sending something, answer a couple questions.
1) What might a judge or jury think of this text/e-mail/post?
2) Do I want to have to explain this to a judge or jury?
3) Do I want this published in the newspaper?
4) Would I want my children to see this?
It's in no one's interest that a message like the one below gets sent and then entered into evidence at trial:
The above comic is from a webcomic called Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. It seems absurd, but it serves as an example: you don't want to be that guy.
There are a lot of parts of a divorce case that are out of a client's control, like court schedules, but e-mails, text messages, and social media posts are definitely within a client's control. Don't commit an unforced error. Think before you text.
A man who donated his sperm so that a lesbian couple could have a child–and with the couple contractually agreeing that he would not ever have to pay child support–has been popped by the State of Kansas for child support, as the mother had applied for welfare. As the sperm donor William Marotta said, “no good deed goes unpunished.”
Marotta may wish he lived in Texas. Texas has a specific provision in the Family Code that states:
“A donor is not a parent of a child conceived by means of assisted reproduction.”
He would not be the father of the child in Texas.
Texas can rightly claim to have the most progressive parentage laws, including the Uniform Parentage Act which contains the above provision. Texas was the first to adopt the act in 2000. The act has since been amended to cover all variations of ARTS, or assisted reproductive technologies.Texas law even covers what happens with an ARTS child in a divorce. Dallas has a number of medical facilities who help people with assisted reproduction. Dallas family law attorneys are useful to help with the gestational agreements and other paperwork that is necessary to properly set forth and register the agreements-- and to avoid William Marotta’s fate in Kansas.
It is best that couples–including gay or lesbian couples- who are considering adding a child to their family should check with a Dallas family law attorney to make sure they understand what they need to do before they get too far in the process. We can help.
The Kansas man's story is here.