MISTAKE #3 – TALKING TRASH
You may feel you must vent about your issues with the ex. Sometimes talking trash may just slip. If it does, beware “the natural and logical consequences.”
NEVER trash your ex to your kids. It will hurt you in family court, if you insist on going there. And it will certainly bite you back with the kids for years to come if you don’t encourage them to love you both.
I had a horrible divorce case in which the opposing client mother falsely accused my client of sexually molesting their six year old daughter. Luna was clearly coaching little Angel to believe that she had been abused. One day, Angel told her grandmother over the phone that “someone is touching my private parts.” Her grandmother could hear Luna tell Angel “Don’t tell her that! You’re not supposed to say that to her!” Additionally, Angel informed Alejandro, “Daddy, I can’t go with you until I tell the judge what you did to me.” And later, she told him, “you gotta stop touching my private parts, ok, daddy? If you just admit what you did then I can see you.”
Needless to say, once it was obvious Luna was teaching Angel to lie about sexual abuse, we obtained 100% timesharing for this father, and their mother didn’t see any of their three children for over a year!
In another case, the clients both constantly complained that the other was talking trash about them to their young children and discussed the divorce litigation with the children. When James asked his ten year old daughter, Lisa, what she wanted for her birthday, she replied, that she wanted him to “help Mommy by giving us money” and to not use his girlfriend “as a bite to lure me in to go with you.” Their eight year old son said “Mommy doesn’t like you.”
Of course, the opposing client, Renee, similarly complained about James. Later, Lisa began questioning James about a “work trip” to Las Vegas that he had taken prior to the clients’ separation. She asked whether he had brought his current girlfriend with him. He had never discussed this trip with Lisa, so Renee had clearly discussed it with her.
Against our advice, James shut off Renee’s telephone and internet. Lisa asked James about it. Like the Las Vegas trip, she would not know that her father was responsible for it unless her mother mentioned it to her. Lisa also asked my client about an upcoming court date. Although our client was no gem, the opposing client was clearly defying the temporary standing order which forbids clients from discussing dissolution litigation in the presence of the children.
I also had a client whose ex began a relationship with a woman, Marcy, who attempted to alienate my client from her young daughter. The opposing client and Marcy were talking trash about my client in front of little Susie, telling her that my client was trying to get a judge to try to take her away from her father. The judge was not happy to hear it.
If you must, vent in the journal that your divorce lawyer should have asked you to maintain.
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About this week’s authors: Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, 2 of which she served as professor in law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen award, an honor bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.