What Not To Do In A Divorce
The decision to separate and divorce can often lead to feelings of resentment, anger, and at times, even hatred, between the individuals experiencing this ordeal. When children are involved, some parents may attempt to use the children as weapons against the other parent. This is never a good idea and can affect future custodial agreements and have a lasting psychological impact on the children.
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a childhood disorder that arises almost exclusively in child-custody disputes. This occurs when one parent attempts to use certain tactics to affect the child’s feelings towards the other parent. It can also occur when one parent either completely denies visitation or otherwise attempts to interfere with visitation.
Some of the symptoms or actions that lead to PAS include:
Allowing the child to feel as though they are the ones controlling the visitation, especially when it has been set forward by the court. E.g.: “I won’t force you to visit your mother/father if you don’t want to.”
Inability to tolerate the presence of the other parent even at occasions important to the child. E.g.: “I won’t attend your game if your mother/father is there.”
Communicating the dislike of visitation to the child. E.g., “You can visit your mother/father, but you know how I feel about it.”
Making claims of drug/alcohol or physical/sexual abuse towards either the spouse or the child when these claims cannot be substantiated in court.
Overt statements to the child such as “Your mom/dad doesn’t love you anymore.” Or, statements such as, “Your mother/father abandoned me.”
Refusal to speak directly with the other parent. Putting the child in the middle by saying, “tell your mother/father this” can be detrimental to your case.
Giving the child temptations that might interfere with the other parent’s shared time.
Florida no longer uses the term “custody” and instead has adopted the term “time sharing.” This means that both parents have the right to share time with their children even after divorce. There are times when a parent will attempt to alienate their children from the other parent in order to interfere with the time sharing agreement. They may even attempt this before there is a time sharing agreement in place while the divorce is still in the court system.
Florida statutes do provide guidance in regards to these types of situations. Florida will always consider the best interests of the child in any time-sharing order. The statute explicitly states that parents are expected to shield the children from the process of divorce as much as possible. Parents who make disparaging comments about the other parent or attempt to alienate the other parent from their children can place themselves at a disadvantage.
In the case of domestic or child abuse, however, it is always suggested that you contact local law enforcement as well as a qualified attorney. An attorney who specializes in family law, domestic violence, and divorce can help you properly fill out the necessary paperwork. Your safety and the safety of your children are of the utmost importance in these situations.