Whisper, Whisper, Not a Good Idea. Avoid discussing the other parent in the presence of the child.
Can you believe that Mr. Creepo wants full custody now? You won’t believe what that &$!#!! told the judge about me? Guess what that loser-ex-wife of mine is offering me in visitation time?
When the heat of a child custody battle rises to the surface, parents tend to talk openly about each other. In fact, it’s not uncommon to gripe about the proceedings to one’s friends and family members, and to verbally defame the other parent in the privacy of one’s home.
Yet, having these “private” conversations where children can hear them is bad news all around. For one thing, if a child believes what she hears and adopts the parent’s defamatory tone, the other parent will catch on quickly that he (she) is being maligned in front of the child. It may prompt the aggrieved parent to file a motion or, worse yet, to argue that the slanderous parent is engaging in parental alienation tactics. The child may repeat what she hears to a psychologist, to a custody evaluator or to a judge, leaving these persons with great concerns about the nasty parent’s household demeanor.
Sometimes, too, defaming a parent in the presence of a child can backfire, prompting the child to take the victim-parent’s side. It teaches children that it’s okay to speak poorly of their parents, and can have multiple damaging ripple effects.
If you feel you must lash out against your opponent in a child custody case, schedule a private get-together with adult family members or friends – outside the earshot of children. Letting off steam in the presence of the kids is likely only to complicate your case, not to improve your position.