What is a Morality Clause, and Does it Apply to My Florida Divorce?
Morality clauses are something that used to be rather popular in a divorce, especially in the South. These were part of a Judge’s divorce order and typically required one or both of the divorcing spouses to do something. It could also require that they refrain from a specific action. One example of a commonly used morality clause was to require the woman not to have any male overnight guests unless the individual was married to the woman or was a direct relative.
Morality Clauses as Part of a Divorce Judgment
Today, these clauses are less commonly used in a divorce and can be quite difficult to enforce. If you or your spouse want to include one of these morality clauses in your request for divorce, the court may not enforce it. Even if you and your spouse agreed to one, the court still has the authority to reject it. There is not necessarily anything that prevents you from including a morality clause in your request for divorce, but just understand the court may not approve it even if you both agree to it.
Morality Clauses and Parenting Plans
Morality clauses are also sometimes seen in parenting plans during a Florida child custody case. This would be specific language that would restrict each parent from participating in certain behavior around your children.
The courts in Florida will consider each parent’s moral fitness prior to approving a parenting plan. Parenting plans establish a time-sharing schedule and define parental responsibility. There is no exact definition in Florida statutes on what moral fitness is. These are handled on a case by case basis. One example is when a court looks at a parent’s sexual relations and activity during an analysis of moral fitness, but only if the parent’s conduct has a direct effect on their child’s welfare.
If one parent is asking for the other parent’s behavior to be restricted, he or she is essentially asking for a morality clause. There are certain types of behavior that are not unreasonable to ask for in these types of agreements. It’s understandable that a parent would prefer the other parent doesn’t introduce a new dating partner into their children’s lives until a certain amount of time has elapsed. Or, they may want the other parent not to consume alcohol when the children are present.
Morality clauses are never initiated by the courts. This is something one party would present to the court in the form of an agreement that the court would review and then decide whether or not to accept or reject. In situations where the court feels a morality clause is unconscionable or too restrictive, the judge will not accept it.
Contact a Florida Family Law Attorney
You should not agree to a morality clause just because you think the judge will see your refusal as a sign you are a bad parent. On the flip side, agreeing to refrain from certain behaviors is not a confession to being a bad parent.
If you have questions on morality clauses, it’s important to speak with a skilled and experienced Boca Raton child custody and parenting plan attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Schwartz | White at 561-391-9943 to schedule an initial consultation.