It's no secret that divorcing couples aren't generally fond of one another. There is a reason they are splitting, after all.
However, there is good reason to keep those statements to yourself - especially where your children and social media are concerned. No matter how true and justified your complaints, voicing them to children can be damaging to them emotionally. Further, family courts - weighing the best interests of children - will take into account the extent to which they've been dragged into their parents' troubles.
Parents can further damage their standing in court if they blast their ex on Facebook, Twitter or some other medium. In those cases, evidence is tangible, and your ex will be allowed to bring those samples to court to show the judge.
Our Brooklyn child custody lawyers know evidence of this kind of "trash-talking" can be given even greater weight than other relevant factors.
It was this kind of disparagement that altered a child custody arrangement between two parents in the recent case of In re Alfredo J.T. v. Jodi D. before the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department. In this case, the mother appealed a family court's order of sole legal and physical custody of the pair's 5-year-old daughter.
The appellate court affirmed the lower court's order, finding it had appropriately weighed all relevant evidence - most notably the fact that the mother had deliberately and continuously talked badly about the girls' father in her presence. The court found this caused the girl much anxiety, which the mother did not act to abate.
Further, appellate court found credible the lower court's finding that the mother routinely impeded the girl's visitation with her father, which the court deemed contrary to the best interests of the child.
Of course, there were other factors too. The court found the father was better able to meet the child's educational and medical needs. While in her mother's care, the girl developed "bottle rot," which is a form of tooth decay in infants and young children who consume sugary drinks. The condition required extensive dental treatment. Further, the child was still wearing diapers at age 5.
The court found that despite the child's express desire to live with her mother, she was in a more stable environment in staying with her father, stepmother, stepsister and infant half-brother. Additionally, she will be allowed regular visitation with her mother and older half-sister.
Part of the reason the courts allow this to hold such weight is because of the general underlying belief that a child who receives the care and attention of both parents will be more likely to thrive. When parents divorce or break up, judges want to know that if a child is placed with one parent, he or she will not be deprived of affection from the other. That means the court needs assurance that the custodial parent is going to cooperate in facilitating a healthy relationship between the child and other parent.
Bear in mind before you speak that it's not your spouse who is most likely to suffer as a result of your disparaging comments - it's your child and, in the custody case, you.
If you are fighting for child custody in Brooklyn, call our offices at (718) 864-2011.
In re Alfredo J.T. v. Jodi D. , Sept. 25, 2014, New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department
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