In another thoughtful decision by Judge Larry Jones in Ocean County, he ruled in Mantle v. Mantle that a prohibition that the children were not to be introduced to significant others after the parties divorce was not in the children’s best interests and therefore, the ban previously agreed upon between the parties would not be enforced. http://www.njlawjournal.com/id=1202733897339/Ban-on-Paramour-Overnights-Voided-by-Family-Judge?kw=Ban%20on%20Paramour%20Overnights%20Voided%20by%20Family%20Judge&cn=20150805&pt=Daily%20News%20Alert&src=EMC-Email&et=editorial&bu=New%20Jersey%20Law%20Journal
Judge Jones went further and ruled that an open-ended restriction is unenforceable without any evidence of inappropriate behavior by the girlfriend toward the child. He did indicate, however, that the court will enforce short-term restrictions on limited or no contact with a parent’s new girlfriend or boyfriend that is designed to protect the child’s well-being. A little speculative? Premature?
DeVita restraints, as they have been come to be called stem from DeVita v. DeVita, a 1976 case where the Appellate Division upheld a ruling barring overnight visits by the father’s girlfriend when the couple’s children were visiting him. The mother objected to the girlfriend being present when the children had parenting time with their father. The court agreed and found that “a substantial body of the community” shared the mother’s view that their children’s “moral welfare” would be harmed by exposure to such visits. Judge Jones held that 1976 is a millions year away from 2015 and it’s “highly debatable” whether a substantial portion of the community would take that view today. Have we lost moral welfare?
But what does the ruling say for the validity or enforcement of bargained for agreements? Do parties have the right to negotiate and agree upon terms that others may find offensive or burdensome? Do parent’s have the right to raise their children and dictate who their children should be influenced by? Some say the decision is right – some say it’s nothing but trouble.
If you have questions about your parenting arrangements or agreement with your spouse or soon to be ex-spouse, contact one of our family lawyers.