By Jaskiran Bajwa
It is important to put aside any anger or resentment you may have for your ex-partner when a parenting plan is being prepared to determine who has decision-making responsibility for the children.
Letting your emotions take control could lead you to verbally abuse the other parent, which could have serious consequences.
If your case is before the court or a mediator, any vindictiveness will reflect badly on you. Your ability to provide a stable and safe environment for the children may be called into question. This could result in you not receiving equal parenting time.
If there are court orders or a parenting plan in place that mandates respectful communication between parents, engaging in verbal abuse can result in legal consequences, including contempt of court.
Verbal abuse also carries an emotional toll. It increases resentment and hostility between you and your ex and can negatively affect the ability to co-parent cooperatively.
Verbal abuse takes many forms
Abuse refers to all forms of behaviour in which one person is trying to achieve and/or maintain control or power over another. It is all about power and control. It typically does not result from the abused person’s faults or weaknesses. When someone plays games with someone else’s emotions through insults, taunts or other methods, that is abuse.
Verbal abuse in a divorce can take many forms. They include:
- Using derogatory language, slurs or offensive terms to belittle and demean your ex-partner. For example, if you want to establish that you are better at managing the family’s finances, you can show that without demeaning your ex-partner’s intelligence.
- Raising one's voice excessively or screaming at the other parent. That may temporarily intimidate them but can hurt you in the long run.
- Blaming your ex-partner for the collapse of the marriage.
- Using sarcasm and mockery to ridicule your former partner.
Children are affected
Verbal abuse between parents can be extremely harmful to a child's emotional and psychological well-being. Witnessing or overhearing abusive interactions can cause trauma and long-lasting emotional scars.
If one parent is badmouthing the other, that can strain the children’s relationship with both parents. They are caught in the middle during a divorce and may distance themselves from the parent making disparaging remarks.
Remember that the court's primary concern in custody matters is the best interests of the child. If one parent is engaging in verbal abuse that is likely to be viewed unfavourably by the court. In those cases, it is crucial to seek help and take appropriate actions to address and prevent verbal abuse for the sake of the children's well-being.
The well-being of the children should be the central focus during a custody dispute. Engaging in respectful, cooperative co-parenting is generally in the child's best interests and can lead to a more positive outcome for everyone involved.
There are alternatives
Instead of badmouthing the other parent, focus on maintaining a positive and healthy co-parenting relationship for the benefit of the child. Here are some tips for effective co-parenting:
- Open communication. Maintain open and respectful communication with the other parent regarding child-related issues.
- Put the child first. Always prioritize the child's best interests in decision-making and interactions.
- Respect boundaries. Respect the other parent's time with the child and their role in the child's life.
- Seek mediation or counselling. If conflicts persist, consider seeking the assistance of a mediator or counsellor to facilitate discussions and improve co-parenting communication.
- Follow court orders. Adhere to any rulings or parenting plans that are in place.
How to deal with verbal abuse
If you are experiencing verbal abuse when trying to establish a parenting plan, it is important to take steps to address it. These include:
- Documenting the abuse. Perhaps the abusive statements are being delivered in a private conversation between you and your ex-partner. If so, write down what was said as soon as you have the opportunity. If possible, record phone conversations. If the person is being abusive using texts or emails, preserve those electronic documents or take screenshots of them.Consult a lawyer: If you feel unsafe or believe you
- are being bullied, seek legal advice about your options. Your lawyer may suggest mediation, which can help address conflict issues between parents and resolve the disputes you are having.
Call us for assistance
It is important to address verbal abuse to ensure the safety and well-being of the child. Consulting with a knowledgeable family law attorney is crucial. They can help you navigate the legal process and create a parenting plan that takes into account any concerns related to verbal abuse. The court will consider the child's best interests and work to create a safe and stable environment for them.
The team at Demas Schaefer Family Lawyers is ready to assist you with any legal action you need to take. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.