The courts become very frustrated with parents who speak badly of the other in front of children. This is a huge factor for the court in determining child custody. Unfortunately, in many cases, both parents talk poorly to one another in the presence of the children, in which case the courts cannot really consider this factor in the determination of custody. It’s common for the courts to order that neither parent shall disparage the other to the children or where the children may hear, or even allow third parties to do so.
It is terrible for children to hear their parents, grandparents, or their parent’s friends speaking poorly about their other parent. Children simply do not need to hear such conversations and should be allowed to have their own, independent relationship with both parents. If there is a defect with one of their parents, they will discover it on their own; they don’t need to hear others announcing it.
Furthermore, children should not be used for support by either parent. If one parent wants to talk badly about their spouse, they should do it fully away from their children with people whom they trust enough to know that what is said will not be repeated around the children.
Even if a parent thinks they are winning in the short-term by bringing their child to “their side”, it’s extremely damaging in the long run for children to remember the negative things that were said about their parents. It can create a very angry and confused child. If the court discovers that one parent is talking poorly about the other in front of the children, that parent could very well lose custody of the children. I have handled and observed cases wherein parents have repeatedly talked negatively about their spouse, even after being warned by the courts; eventually, contact with their children was severely limited, to the point that they could only have monitored telephonic contact with them. This was the result of repeatedly, severely, and pervasively speaking about the other parent in front of the children.
This is something that can be difficult to prevent and difficult to prove unless the children are old enough to speak about it with their own attorney. Children in a custody dispute are going to be appointed their own attorney and share their views and desires. It is in this way that this type of information often comes to light. Judges get quite upset when they hear from a child that one or both parents are trying to influence them or are speaking disparagingly of the other one. The judge will definitely make orders telling the other spouse that they cannot do that.
Courts often and sometimes automatically order parents to go to parenting classes—not so they can learn to clothe and bathe their children, but so they can learn to communicate with their children and with the other parent in a civil manner that is not damaging to the children. Even if the court does not recommend parenting classes, I do. Parents can also consent to do parenting counseling together, which can be very helpful for all involved.
Oftentimes, children end up choosing who they want to live with based on what they hear. As they grow older, children often choose to move out of a parent’s home who has said negative things about their other parent, so in the end, this type of behavior hurts both parents, damaging one parent’s relationship in the short-term, and the other in the end.
Why Is It In Everyone’s Best Interest To Avoid Social Media During The Course Of A Divorce?
Social media has hurt so many people’s cases. No one should be posting on social media about the details of their divorce. First of all, anything that is posted on social media could be discovered by the children, the children’s friends, or the parents of the children’s friends. Even if a parent believes their child is too young to understand, negative comments can have a direct influence on children.
In addition, most things that are posted on social media could come back to haunt the person, such as pictures of them drinking while out with friends, spending money, or going on a vacation when they claim to not have enough money to support themselves. This will quickly lower the amount of sympathy the court has for someone who claims to be impoverished. It’s best to stay off of social media completely, and certainly not to get into a war of words with one’s spouse or friends on social media. This will only make a person look ridiculous and immature and could be used as evidence of a drinking or drug problem, or used to show the involvement of inappropriate people in their lives. Staying off of social media will make the attorney’s life easier in representing you and the case run smoother. Stay off of social media, period, and you need not worry about what is appropriate!
It should also be noted that text messages are often used in litigation. For this reason, texting the ex should be limited to conveying only very specific information, like “I’m coming to pick up the kids at six o’clock on Friday.” Long-winded discussions and arguments should be avoided through text. Certainly, parents should not share text messages to or from the other parent with the children in an attempt to show the children that their parent is terrible. Text messages are used against parties even more than social media posts and should be used only to confirm basic information.
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