*This is the fourth and final installment in a series of posts on why you shouldn’t talk bad about your spouse to your children when going through a divorce. Part 1 can be read here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here on our Memphis, TN Divorce Blog.
Reason # 4 – It Will Make the Judge Really Angry
This is somewhat related to my last post. There is very little in the world that makes a judge angrier than one parent poisoning the children against the other parent. Making a judge angry is a really bad idea. Making your judge angry is a really, really bad idea.
Tennessee has a firm policy against talking negatively about the other spouse to the children, so much so that every divorce complaint is required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-4-106 to contain an injunction restraining both parties from “making disparaging remarks about the other to or in the presence of any children of the parties.” If you have filed a divorce complaint in Tennessee (or been served with a divorce complaint your spouse has filed), then you are bound by this injunction. This injunction is considered an order of the court, and violating it could land you in hot water with the judge for contempt of court. Penalties for contempt could include a monetary fine or even jail time, and both of these things have actually happened before to people who violated injunctions. That should tell you a little bit about how serious the Tennessee legislature and court system are about this kind of thing.
Similarly, by law in Tennessee, each parent has the right to be free of unwarranted derogatory remarks made to the child by the other parent, and most divorce settlements include language to this effect. Some judges feel so strongly about this that they require the parties to strike the word “unwarranted,” so that both parties are forbidden from making any derogatory remarks about the other parent, even if they are truthful.
Also, your willingness to foster a relationship with the other parent can, and sometimes does, factor into custody decisions. This is actually a factor listed in the law to be considered. If you are interfering with that relationship, that could spell trouble for your chances of a favorable custody outcome.
The point is, judges hate it when parents drag the kids into the middle of everything. In a legal case, the judge is in charge. Don’t tick off the person in charge. It sounds like common sense, but some people become so angry that they don’t stop to think about their actions. Be smart!
*This is the fourth and final installment in a series written by Lori Holyfield