Abortion

The Paramour Clause

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The Paramour Clause sounds like a great name for a legal thriller—you know, the kind of movie that involves a handgun tucked into a garter. But alas, it's nothing so glamorous. In Tennessee, the paramour clause is a legal restriction that prevents a divorce(e)'s lover from staying in the house overnight while he or she has custody of children from the previous marriage. Straight people can get around this clause by getting married. No so for Angel Chandler and her partner of nine years.

Chandler said Chancellor George Ellis of the 28th Judicial District in West Tennessee imposed the restriction, called a paramour clause, in May without a request from her ex-husband and despite an evaluation that showed the children were not in harm's way from their mother's relationship. Ellis cited local law and precedent for the paramour clause, according to the appeal.

Chandler and her partner were forced to rent both halves of a duplex to satisfy the law.

Via writer and mixologist Jacob Grier

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  1. What. A. Douchebag.

  2. Straight people can get around this clause by getting married.

    I understand it sucks a little harder for gays, but it’s not like that’s the most convenient workaround for heterosexuals. Want to sleep with a divorced parent? Then get hitched.

  3. Hmm. Wouldn’t these laws violate the privacy precedents set in Lawrence vs. Texas for both straight and gay people?

  4. “Chandler and her partner were forced to rent both halves of a duplex to satisfy the law.”

    They satisfied the law, they satisfied each other, and satisfaction never felt so good!

  5. They satisfied the law, they satisfied each other, and satisfaction never felt so good!

    Don’t miss The Paramour Clause, the feel good romantic comedy of the season!

  6. it sucks a little harder for gays

  7. Forget getting married, just get a job working overnight. Then you can make whoopee all you want during the day without violating the law.

  8. It’s Tennessee. She’s lucky she wasn’t stoned to death by all those good ole country Christians.

  9. ktc2,

    There are no rocks in Tennesse you idiot! Just dirt hills.

  10. It’s Tennessee. She’s lucky she wasn’t stoned to death by all those good ole country Christians

    While the Chancellor in this case imposed it sua spontae, it appears the “Paramour clause” is not Tennessee law, but a part of this couple’s divorce decree. I’ve found examples in Lousiana and New Jersey as well.

    I haven’t been able to do a lot of research on it, but it’s apparently not uncommon in custody arrangements. It also appears that couples aren’t required to have this in their custody agreements, meaning that Chandler and her ex-husband could have eliminated this clause by mutual agreement when they first split up. She may be the victim of a vengeful chancellor and her own poor planning.

  11. Seems like the obvious solution is to emigrate to a better jurisdiction. Scandinavia should work.

    -jcr

  12. There are no rocks in Tennesse you idiot! Just dirt hills.

    And coal slurry. Lots and lots of slurry.

  13. She may be the victim of a vengeful chancellor and her own poor planning.

    True. I don’t think anyone’s arguing that legally the rule is not kosher. Only, that the Chancellor is a douchebag.

  14. People who enforce paramour clauses are in the business of misery.

  15. People who enforce paramour clauses are in the business of misery.

    Thread winner!

    (Just in case, reference explained here.)

  16. I await all of the KMW haters to come along and talk about how she’s a big Team Red shill for expressing outrage at this “family-values-driven” decision.

  17. So it’s better if the parent leaves her children alone at night so she can go somewhere else to sleep with her new beau, eh?

  18. You figure people would have learned a long time ago not to give a Chancellor too much power.

  19. Scott | December 31, 2008, 12:54pm | #

    Hmm. Wouldn’t these laws violate the privacy precedents set in Lawrence vs. Texas for both straight and gay people?

    The courts have much greater latitude in regulating the private behavior of people as part of a divorce settlement than the public as a whole.

  20. What the hell?

    [The Judge] imposed the restriction, called a paramour clause, in May without a request from her ex-husband [or] an evaluation show[ing] the children were in harm’s way

    So, a judge just unilaterally imposed this restriction without input from either side of the divorce or another interested party (DHS, etc). This guy still has a job?

  21. Abdul,

    While the Chancellor in this case imposed it sua spontae, it appears the “Paramour clause” is not Tennessee law, but a part of this couple’s divorce decree.

    I saw no reference (in the article) to it being in the decree. Do you have another source? I am not saying that the clause isn’t there, nor that it is uncommon but from the article I can’t discern that it existed when they exited the court room.

  22. The Angry Optimist | December 31, 2008, 1:41pm | #
    I await all of the KMW haters to come along and talk about how she’s a big Team Red shill for expressing outrage at this “family-values-driven” decision.

    TAO,
    She’s no Team Red shill. A hack, yes but no shill.

  23. This guy is worse than Chancellor Gorkon.

  24. This guy is worse than Chancellor Gorkon.

    Honestly, consider the room. Did that really need to be a link? 😉

  25. Habit, dude. Habit.

  26. so, he’s not evil, just fucking stupid?

    sheesh. 🙂

  27. so, he’s not evil, just fucking stupid?

    Evil uses stupid many times, but stupidity also tends to stand pretty well on its own.

  28. This is a good law that properly attempts to protect children from the moral turpitude of irresponsible parents. I don’t understand why Reason has an issue with it — unless the objective is to further erode our social fabric.

    Are we libertarians, or libertines?

  29. very nice, d! very nice!!

  30. If she was born a lesbian why did she marry and get knocked up by a guy?

  31. This is a good law that properly attempts to protect children from the moral turpitude of irresponsible parents.

    I have to say, this made me giggle a little.

  32. Remember: lonely, sexually frustrated divorcees make the best parents! But divorcees in happy, loving relationships may as well be Joan Crawford during her “No wire hangers” phase.

  33. “Chandler and her partner were forced to rent both halves of a duplex to satisfy the law.”

    With the current housing crisis, filling two rental properties is actually a good thing.

  34. …while her or she has custody…

    Is this an editing error or is it intentional? I’m just curious.

  35. “If she was born a lesbian why did she marry and get knocked up by a guy?”

    Bi-fem. Or social pressure. Take your pick.

    http://www.citypages.com/advice/view/SavageLove

  36. Remember: lonely, sexually frustrated divorcees make the best parents!

    Yes, of course. Getting your nut is WAY more important than setting a good example for your children.

  37. Kwix,

    The paramour clause isn’t a law, and the article states that it was in the divorce decree. I can’t tell if the chancellor inserted it himself, or if the parties inserted it because they were using boiler plate language or because it suited them initially but became obsolete, or what.

    Either way, if I ever get divorced, I’m writing all of my insecurities into our divorce settlement: 1) no losing weight and getting all hot looking after we split up; 2) no telling your hot friends how much I suck in bed; 3) paramours must leave by 8 pm and must be shorter, fatter, and balder than me.

  38. Yes, of course. Getting your nut is WAY more important than setting a good example for your children.

    This is the 21st century, idiot. Being gay is not immoral anymore.

  39. This guy still has a job?

    He not only has a job, he has a job on the public teat.

    -jcr

  40. This is a good law that properly attempts to protect children from the moral turpitude of irresponsible parents.

    The only moral turpitude here is the actions of the scumbag who gave the order to keep two people apart. Fuck you, and the idiots who raised you.

    -jcr

  41. Yes, of course. Getting your nut is WAY more important than setting a good example for your children.

    So if the state allowed gay marriage and they then got married, everything would be cool, right? Just like heteros? Right?

  42. Yes, of course. Getting your nut is WAY more important than setting a good example for your children.

    And being a lonely person who never has sex is how you set a good example for children. Heaven forbid kids learn that loving romantic relationships can be a part of adult life! Next thing you know, they’ll get the idea that it’s possible to drink wine with dinner without turning into a raging alcoholic. And that’s just crazy talk.

  43. it’s possible to drink wine with dinner without turning into a raging alcoholic.

    Jennifer, you shouldn’t post things like this. There could be kids looking at this here Internet thingy

  44. Reinmoose, I SAID “that’s just crazy talk.” Kids need to learn how to read things in context.

  45. The provision in question is not required by Tennessee law. It is, however, arguably authorized by Tennessee law.

    Rule 65.07 of the Tennessee Rules of Cvili Procedure states in relevant part:

    In domestic relations cases, restraining orders … may be issued upon such terms and conditions and remain in force for such time as shall seem just and proper to the judge to whom application therefore is made, and the provisions of this Rule shall be followed only insofar as deemed appropriate by such judge.

    The application of this rule is subject to the constitutional requirement that an injunction or restraining order be specific enough to enable the enjoined party to ascertain and understand what the court intends to require and what it means to forbid. Too many domestic relations judges, however, run their courtrooms as fiefdoms, heedless of due process requirements.

    Where a trial judge runs amok on a regular basis, I fault the trial bar in that jurisdiction almost as much as the errant judge. Domestic litigants, however, are in a precarious position where these litigants’ future access to their children is at risk. Practitioners who appear regularly before a rogue judge are reluctant to anger the judge.

    Divorcing spouses who are unable to resolve their differences and who therefore entrust their children’s welfare to a judge who does not have to deal with the day-to-day consequences of his/her decision would often be wise to work moe diligently to resolve the issues between them voluntarily in as amicable a manner as possible.

  46. work moe diligently

    We try! We try!

  47. “Honestly, consider the room. Did that really need to be a link? ;)”

    it helped me out. i don’t speak this flavor of nerd.

  48. ‘Heterosexual couples can circumvent the paramour clause by getting married, [ACLU spokesperson] Cates said.

    ‘Unfortunately, this case is an all-too-familiar example of how unfairly lesbian and gay parents are treated in custody and visitation proceedings,” said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. “All the children’s health and welfare organizations have long recognized that lesbian and gay parents are just as capable of being good parents as straight couples, and their children are just as well adjusted.’

    I fully agree that in this particular context there should be no distinction between the rights of hetero lovers and gay lovers. Someone who’s living apart from their spouse should not have the right to entertain lovers while the kids are there. Neither heteros nor gays should be able to circumvent this restriction by getting “remarried” while the original spouse is still alive.

    Of course, the heteros decided that it would be so cool to allow people to get “remarried” during the life of the original spouse. Now the gays declare, quite logically, that they, too, should be able to get the benefit of such a rule.

    An excellent illustration of the slippery slope. When hetero adulterers get the support of the law in legitimizing their relationships and reclassifying those relationships as “marriage,” then gays naturally feel that discrimination against them in the name of traditional marriage is hypocritical. If heteros get to throw the traditional definition of marriage as a lifelong union down the toilet, why not take the logical next step and and abolish the notion that a marriage is the union of a man and a woman?

    “And being a lonely person who never has sex is how you set a good example for children. Heaven forbid kids learn that loving romantic relationships can be a part of adult life!”

    Perhaps you mean “adulterous life.”

    Let us look at the incentive structure here. If the law tells you, “it’s OK to abandon your spouse – you can just trade in that spouse for a newer, hotter model,” then you are providing incentives for divorce.

  49. “It’s Tennessee. She’s lucky she wasn’t stoned to death by all those good ole country Christians.”

    Or maybe a howling mob could surround her place of employment, demanding that she be fired? Or the howling mob could try to drive her out of the neighborhood?

    Wait – I’m thinking of the gay liberationists in California. Never mind.

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