What is a Morality Clause in Divorce and Custody Terms?

Morality clauses are often associated with celebrity contracts. However, they may also be found in divorce decrees and other family law agreements.

What is a morality clause?

A morality clause is a provision in a contract that requires one or both parties to act under certain moral standards. 

Such a clause is often included in contracts for public figures – actors, athletes, politicians – as a way to protect the reputation of the brand or company with which they are associated. But they can be found in other family law agreements, too, including custody and marital settlement agreements. 

A morality clause can specify behaviors that are deemed unacceptable such as drug use, criminal activity, or scandalous behavior. It can include consequences such as termination of the contract or financial penalties if the clause is breached.

Is a morality clause legal?

Yes, morality clauses are legal as long as the terms of the clause are clear and reasonable. It is important to note that morality clauses should not conflict with individual rights or be discriminatory. So, it's essential to create a precise and reasonable morality clause that protects the interests of both parties involved in the contract.

Where might a morality clause be used?

A morality clause could be used in any contract as long as the parties agree to the terms. In fact, although most people associate them with celebrities, they're often included in family law matters such as divorce decrees and child custody agreements.

Divorce decree

A morality clause may be included in a divorce decree to prevent a former spouse from exposing children to immoral behavior. For example, the clause may require that neither parent engage in drug use or excessive alcohol use in the presence of the children.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements

A morality clause may be included in a prenuptial agreement to protect the financial and other interests of one or both parties in the event of a divorce. For example, the clause may require that the other spouse does not engage in extramarital affairs. It may specify that if they do, it could result in financial penalties such as the loss of alimony.

A morality clause may be included in a postnuptial agreement for the same reasons. For example, the clause may require that one spouse does not abuse drugs or alcohol or engage in any activity that is detrimental to the well-being of the other spouse.

Child custody agreements

A morality clause may be included in a child custody agreement to ensure that the children are not exposed to immoral or harmful behavior. For example, the clause may require that neither parent engages in significant gambling or drinking habits when caring for the children.

Job contracts

A morality clause may be included in a job contract to maintain the reputation of the employer's brand. For example, the clause may require that an employee doesn't engage in any activities that could bring unnecessary criticism or controversy to the employer's brand, such as using illegal substances or engaging in criminal behavior.

How is a morality clause enforced?

The enforcement of a morality clause depends on the specific terms of the clause and the agreement in which it is embedded. Most often, one party must demonstrate that the other party breached the clause. This can be challenging, as the evidence may be subjective.

If a morality clause is included in a contract and one party breaks the clause, the other may take legal action. The exact remedies available depend on the terms of the agreement, but they often include financial penalties, termination of the contract, or losing custody.

It’s important to note that the enforcement of a morality clause does not depend solely on whether the conduct in question is illegal. Rather, a breach of a morality clause can occur when a party's behavior is deemed to be immoral or unethical and violates the terms stipulated in the contract.

Types of issues addressed in morality clauses

The language of a morality clause in a divorce agreement generally prohibits each party from engaging in certain behaviors that are considered unacceptable or inappropriate. For example, it may prohibit parents from consuming alcohol above a certain limit when they are in the presence of their children.

Often, morality clauses concern the following types of issues:

  1.  Use of illegal drugs or involvement with criminal activity
  2.  Exposing children to inappropriate television shows or movies
  3.  Exposing children to individuals with a criminal record, without court approval
  4.  Engaging in domestic violence or any activity that threatens the well-being of the children

Sometimes, a morality clause may limit who can be around the children. It may, for example, restrict the presence of romantic partners when children are present. Depending on the agreement, both parties may be required to submit to regular drug testing, psychological evaluations, and other verifications to make sure they are following the clauses.

Pros and cons of agreeing to a morality clause in divorce

Here are some general pros and cons of using a morality clause in a divorce decree:


  • It can provide an additional level of protection for the children against exposure to harmful or inappropriate behavior.
  • It can help prevent conflict between former spouses over how the children are being raised.
  • It can help maintain a positive image for both the parents and the children within the community.
  • It can allow one party to have more control over the behavior of the other party after the divorce. This may grant them a greater sense of relief and emotional security.


  • It can be difficult to enforce a clause and prove that a breach has occurred, especially if the evidence is subjective.
  • It can restrict the personal freedom and privacy of the parties involved.
  • It can be seen as judgmental or controlling, which can strain the relationship between former spouses.
  • It may make the divorce process more contentious if the other party feels the clause is oppressive or unreasonable.

At Hello Divorce, we’re committed to making divorce less stressful and costly. We understand that divorce happens – in fact, it’s quite common, and people should not feel as though they have failed or are being punished in the midst of this big life change. Want to learn more about what we stand for and what we offer? Schedule a free 15-minute phone call.

Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.