If you take a look at your child custody order, there should be somewhere in there a note that says you cannot badmouth or disparage your ex-spouse in front of your children. Of course, this rule is not something that applies to just you, but to both you and your ex-spouse. Courts put these rules into child custody orders because constant badmouthing will damage how a child sees their parent, even if they first believe all the disparaging remarks are untrue. Basically, the court wants to do whatever it can to preserve a child’s healthy relationship with their parents after a divorce and prohibiting “smack talk” is one way to do that.
However, not all spouses take this part of a child custody order seriously. It is all too common for a divorced parent to complain about the behaviors of their ex in front of their children, especially if their kids are teenagers. People want to vent to others around them when they are frustrated, so it is not completely unusual that a parent would talk poorly about an ex-spouse to their kids. But this is still not an excuse or permission to do it.
Stop Badmouthing Your Ex for Your Kid’s Sake
Not only does badmouthing an ex-spouse increase the chances of parental alienation, but it also hurts the child’s own self-esteem. Children often see themselves as a mix of each parent. If one parent says X and Y are awful behaviors of their ex-spouse and the child sees themselves doing X and Y, then they will start to feel awful about themselves.
If you find yourself tempted to disparage your ex-spouse in front of your children, then it is time to pause and take a step back. By mentally reining yourself in, you can avoid hurting your child’s self-esteem and their relationship with your ex-spouse, who might have done nothing wrong to them in particular. What is also important is that removing toxic thought patterns from your mind helps you, too. The less you spit venom about your ex-spouse, the less you will be bothered about what led to your divorce and the more you can start building a better future for yourself and your child.
What Does the Court Do to Stop Badmouthing?
Is your ex-spouse badmouthing you all the time around your kid and they won’t try to control themselves? The court might have to get involved to stop them. Oftentimes, the court will order the belligerent parent to undergo some form of therapy or psychological evaluation. If your child is old enough, then they might even be brought before the court to tell the judge just how extensive that disparagement has been. In a final option, it might even be possible that the child custody order is modified to give less parenting time to the belligerent parent, assuming there is a real reason to believe their badmouthing is hurting the child’s wellbeing, mentally and emotionally.
Convincing a court to help you overcome, stop, and undo your ex-spouse’s badmouthing is difficult, but a family law attorney can help. At Richard Ross Associates in Westlake Village, we routinely help parents through complicated divorces and other family law issues, including those rife with disparagement carried out by their ex. You can count on us, too, when you need legal guidance and moral support.
Call 805.410.3407 to speak with our attorneys about how we can stop disparagement and badmouthing.