July 4th, 1776. The Declaration of Independence. The Revolutionary War. What was it all about?
In a word: Freedom.
Freedom from Great Britain and Freedom from laws that unreasonably interfere with our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
So, what does that have to do with Divorce and Custody law? This: The freedoms that we enjoy in America, even in the Family Law arena are not enjoyed by everyone around the world. Even those in places that we consider similar to us. For example, England.
On a recent trip to England, I enjoyed reading their newspapers to try to learn about their society and culture, and what made it different than what we have in Texas, USA.
Three articles that spoke to the issue of Freedom caught my eye. First, I read an article about someone that was arrested for the possession of certain books. In American, with virtually no limitation, you have the Freedom to read whatever you want.
Next, I read a front-page article that announced how awesome it was that people in England were soon going to be able to get married “wherever they choose.” Get it? It is and has been a crime to get married in an unlicensed place, like a park or your home. Until this proposal becomes law, it is a crime to get married in any location that has not paid money to the government for the right to have marriage ceremonies held in it. Which of course then means that you have to pay money to it for your marriage to take place – and the money you pay it is increased by the money that it has had to pay the government.
Third, and most outrageously, I read an article about a woman that was jailed for 17 hours and faced jail or prison for a much longer time for repeatedly telling her husband to help clean up the house. I’m not kidding. A link to the story is here. She was charged with “controlling behavior.”
According to the UK’s Metro, “She was being held under suspicion of coercive or controlling behavior under laws introduced in 2015 that cover intimate or family relationships that cause someone to ‘fear violence will be used against them on at least two occasions’; or serious alarm or distress with a ‘substantial adverse effect on their usual day-to-day activities.’”
Could such a thing happen in Texas? Well, under our current laws no.
We do have laws in place that can regulate language between persons going through a Texas Divorce. For example, many sets of Temporary Orders and even some Standing Orders state that parties are prohibited from:
1. Communicating with the other party in person, by telephone, or in writing in vulgar, profane, obscene, or indecent language or in a coarse or offensive manner.
2. Threatening the other party in person, by telephone, or in writing to take unlawful action against any person.
3. Threatening the other party or a child of either party with imminent bodily injury.
But I am happy to report, there are serious protections and barriers in place that will prevent jail time, even if someone is under an order like this and accused of violating these provisions.
So, back to July 4th. What’s to celebrate? Freedom!!
Thank God for the Freedoms that we enjoy in the United States and Texas in particular. And thank you to all of the brave people that signed the Declaration of Independence, stood up to the mighty power that was Great Britain, and to all of the courageous people that fought so hard and sacrificed so much so that all of us could enjoy everything, including the Freedoms, that we have today!