Once a divorce has been initiated by one spouse, and the process begins either through the court system, mediation, or otherwise, it is important to remember that when children are involved, the following should be kept in mind and acted on accordingly:
- DO NOT discuss the divorce with the children. The children do not need to know when depositions, and other court proceedings are being held. The children should not be privy to any discussions about the divorce, the specifics of proposed custody or property division, or any bad or allegedly bad behavior of the parties, including misconduct (financial misspending or sexual misconduct or an affair).
- DO NOT say disparaging things about the other parent either to or in front of the children. This puts the children in the middle, a place they should not be and can often lead to what Court’s consider as “alienation.” Alienation is a serious issue. The concept of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) was first coined by Richard Gardner in 1970 and he defined it as including much more than brainwashing. PAS includes not only conscious but subconscious and unconscious factors within the preferred parent that contribute to the parent’s influencing the child’s alienation. Furthermore, and this is extremely important, it includes factors that arise within the child — independent of the parental contributions — that foster the development of this syndrome. Judges can and do consider this conduct, which may have an overall impact on any custody determination.
- DO NOT send messages through your children. If you are unable to communicate with your ex or soon to be ex in-person, then do so by phone or e-mail.
By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your divorce process will run more smoothly and ensure that you are acting in your children’s best interest. It is often difficult taking the high road in any custody situation, but it simply must be done. The court will always place the best interest of the children first, and so should you.