Supporters of gay rights in Colorado and across the nation are watching with interest at a recent ruling in Texas. A judge refused to let a same-sex couple live in the same home because of a clause in her divorce contract. The so-called morality clause, standard in divorces in some counties in the state, keeps unmarried parents from having a romantic partner sleep in the residence if the offspring are also staying there. While men and women could marry in order to get around the technicality, homosexual couples don’t have that right in Texas.
In this case, the couple was married for 11 years until the woman decided she wanted a divorce. The dissolution of their marriage was finalized in 2011. In 2012, the partner moved into the residence of the woman and her daughters, 13 and 10. The judge ordered the partner to vacate the premises within 30 days, thereby enforcing the agreement specified in the divorce. While some feel that the case targets homosexuals, the judge said that the gender of those involved doesn’t matter. He added that the law focuses on what’s best for the kids.
The women may appeal the case and added that the ruling will hurt them, especially the girls. However, the father argued that he wants the best for his daughters, which is why he asked for the law to be enforced. One family lawyer observed that the mother agreed to the clause during the divorce and fighting the rule could be very challenging.
With the increase of same-sex couples and the legalization of their unions in some states and not in others, this area can be sticky in some divorces, especially when children are involved. A family attorney might be able to help couples negotiate an acceptable solution to child custody issues.
Source: ABC News, “Lesbian couple in Allen says morality clause in divorce equals discrimination”, VALERIE WIGGLESWORTH, May 21, 2013