A Massachusetts lawmaker recently proposed a bill that dives deep into the personal lives of divorcing couples. Republican State Senator Richard Ross proposed bill S787, which mandates that divorcing couples, who have a child or children, abstain from sexual intercourse or romantic interludes during a separation. According to a report in Kentucky Newsday, Ross created this bill at the request of a constituent. The bill states, in part:
‘In divorce, separation, 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.’
If the bill becomes law, divorcing parties, with children, will need to obtain permission from a judge before dating or having sexual relations within the marital home. This means that the spouse who remains in the martial house cannot bring any party into the home for romantic purposes. From the language of the bill, it appears that this provision even includes any romantic relations between the divorcing couple. Couples with no children would not be held to this requirement.
The senator has taken substantial criticism for the bill from the media and Massachusetts residents. He answers by asserting that he filed it solely at the request of a loyal voter. Ross explains that the constituent endured a very difficult divorce process and asked him to create this bill that would directly address this sensitive issue among separated couples. The physical bill contains the words “by request,” meaning that the senator is proposing the legislation, even though he disagrees with it himself.
Massachusetts Law About Separation
Currently, under Massachusetts divorce law, there is no prohibition on sexual relations, between a married couple, during the separation period. In some states, divorcing parties are required to give testimony and affirm that they are no longer living together or having sexual relations. If the court finds that the couple engaged in sex during the separation period, the divorce request may be possibly denied. Massachusetts divorce law does not include this mandate. If this new bill is passed, divorcing couples, with children, will not only have to notify the court of any plans for a sexual relationship, but wait for the judge to grant permission before carrying through with their plans. The bill gives no direction about enforcement, which is a substantial problem. Questions abound about how the spouse will request permission and how much information the court will require. In addition, what method of review will the judge utilize to make a determination on the issue?
These issues may explain why the Bill S787 is not seeing much success in the Massachusetts legislature. It was originally proposed in early 2013, but it was not until last week that it was first discussed in Senate hearings. On March, 20, 2014, the bill was granted an extension for consideration until June 30, according to reports. Ross has not expressed much enthusiasm for the success of the bill, stating it is “going nowhere is the legislature.”
Separation and divorce are complex issues. If you and your spouse are considering divorce, call the Law Office of Martin Murphy LLC at (781)285-8989 for collaborative representation through the complexities of the divorce process.