According to ABC 6, the language of the bill reads:
“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.”
It was sponsored by Sen. Richard Ross (R) of Wrentham on behalf his constituent Selectman Robert Leclair. Ross said he did not support the bill but said he had a duty to give his constituent a voice.
“I do not support that particular bill,” Ross told local NBC affiliate. “Back when we wrote our constitution back in the 1780s Massachusetts provided a provision where by citizens could have the right to petition.”
The law, S.B. 787, has gained a lot of negative media attention since it was re-introduced to the state legislature in late last month, and won’t likely get the support it needs to pass when Massachusetts lawmakers vote on in June. But the man behind the bill, Leclair, former president of Fathers United for Equal Justice, thinks it will protect children and prevent domestic violence.
Leclair, 86, went through a bitter divorce in the 70s that wasn’t finalized but it wasn’t his own bitter divorce that inspired the legislation, but the stories of others he encountered while at Fathers United. He explained that when a person sees their estranged spouse with another person it can encourage jealousy, “it was his home, he was thrown out of it, and if he sees another male there with his wife and his children, anything can happen.”
“If people want to have sex, as long as it’s not in the martial home, you can go to a motel if you want, I’m not trying to legislate morality,”Leclair told ABC 6.
Divorcing couples in Massachusetts already have to wait 120 days before their divorce can be finalized, and that is only if both parties agree to the final settlement and are not battling over child custody or marital assets. If Ross’ law is passed that means divorcing parties would have to wait four months before they can legally date or have sex with another person.
Dating a new person during divorce can raise suspicions of infidelity and the new person can be dragged into the divorce. They may be called to testify if a spouse suspects the relationship began before the divorce. It can also cause children more pain and jeopardize future custody rights.
Dating amidst a divorce is not forbidden by law, but some divorce attorneys recommend couples wait until the divorce is final before dating. This is because dating can have an effect of proceedings especially if the divorce is contentious and cost a person more in the long run.