Don’t poison the well
March 1, 2013
Marital problems are terribly difficult for children. This can be even worse when a child is facing parents who are going through a divorce or child custody fight. Do your children a favor and do not “poison” the minds of your children against their other parent. Not only can such talk damage your relationship with your child, it can also come back to haunt you in a child custody case.
Do not speak about the other parent’s faults to children. Remember, the child is 50 percent you, and 50 percent the other parent. To insult the other parent is to tell the child that they are also flawed and unlovable.
Do not complain to your children about how much child support you are paying or how little child support you are receiving. Visitation with parents is not a bargaining chip or game. The law states that each parent is entitled to visitation privileges with their children, regardless of the status of child support. Children are not property or pawns. They should absolutely never be used as a messenger, or a mule to ferry messages between parents. They are innocent individual human beings that need both of their parents.
Do not talk to your children about this case. Do not complain to your friends about the other parent or this case in any way that the child can “overhear”- this would include making sure the child cannot hear you (like being in the room or the hallway), is not reading email over your shoulder, is not picking up a copy of the court pleadings and reading them, and is not viewing your social media updates.
Acting in these ways can poison your child’s relationship with the other parent, but also with yourself. It can cause problems with their own development if they internalize the complaints their parents have against each other. Additionally, this kind of behavior is often brought up in court. When one parent interferes with the child’s relationship with the other parent, it is one of the key factor’s the judge may consider in establishing or altering a custody arrangement. This kind of behavior can have legal impact reducing, or in extreme cases, eliminating any parenting time with the child.
Just as your email and social media are being watched, consider that how you talk about the other parent to your child can and will affect your custody matter.
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Cassandra Jones is an elder law and family law attorney in Gardnerville. She can be reached at 782-0040.