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Disparaging the Other Parent to Your Child After a Divorce or Separation in Ohio

Disparaging the Other Parent to Your Child After a Divorce or Separation in Ohio
May 8, 2019 Shannon Dawes
The Conciliation Process in an Ohio Divorce

Let’s face it – we all make mistakes. Some mistakes are bigger than others, and some have more consequences than others. In cases of divorces or separations, sometimes the “mistake” is the person we married and/or had children with. A divorce or separation can trigger a variety of emotions in the people involved, and if the person from whom we are divorcing or separating was a particularly “bad fit” (or, worse, was violent or abusive toward us), we may find it difficult to keep from telling others what we really think about our child’s other parent and or your former partner.

Can What You Say Get You Into Trouble with the Court?

We each are entitled to our own opinions, and nothing – no court order, no advice from a lawyer, nothing – can compel us to let go of those opinions. That being said, it would be foolish to believe that you could say anything you want about your child’s other parent and escape any consequences or repercussions for doing so. It is not only deliberately false statements that can get you into trouble (which, of course, you should neverspread lies or false rumors about anyone, even your ex-partner); even accurate statements or statements of opinion can impact your divorce or child custody case.

Your Behavior During a Divorce or Child Custody Case Matters

When making decisions in a custody case or a divorce case about where the child shall live or what sort of visitation schedule the child should abide by, the court looks to enter orders that it feels are in the child’s “best interests.” This “best interests” standard is a bit ambiguous, but courts generally believe that it is in a child’s best interests to have a meaningful opportunity to form a relationship with each parent. When you voice your opinion as to how awful the child’s other parent is in front of your child, or in such a way that your child is likely to hear these opinions, you risk making it more difficult for your child to form an appropriate and healthy relationship with that other parent. This, in turn, may frustrate or complicate the court’s orders and intentions. As a result, the court may enter orders restricting your ability to parent your child or limiting your ability to visit your child. In extreme circumstances, the court may place the child in the primary residential custody of the other parent.

You should also be aware that giving voice to your opinions regarding the other parent can include making statements online, on Facebook, and through other means and mediums.

Tips for Giving Voice to Your Thoughts Without Jeopardizing Your Legal Rights

There are some constructive ways to express your thoughts without running the risk of the court taking action against you for interfering with your child’s ability to bond with the other parent. These include:

  • Do not disparage or talk badly about the other parent in your child’s presence. If at all possible, if you have disagreements concerning parenting styles or other disagreements with the other parent, talk with the other parent directly and out of the presence of the child;
  • If you believe there is abusive or criminal conduct afoot, make a report to your attorney, to local law enforcement, or to Child Protective Services so an investigation can take place;
  • Be careful about what you post online or to social media platforms, as copies of these comments can reach the other parent and/or your child even if you do not intend this to occur.

How Dawes Legal, LLC Can Help Ohio Parents

Dawes Legal, LLC is proud to help Ohio parents facing divorce or separation retain their parental rights and continue to build a family with their child or children. If you have questions about your parental rights, or if you are facing difficulties with obtaining custody or appropriate visitation, call Dawes Legal, LLC at (614) 733-9999.