Parenting Tips Revisited

In the past, I’ve offered some steps parents can take to prevent their children from feeling caught in the middle of a divorce. In response to this post, I received a reader comment that raised several insightful issues:

In response to my suggestion that parents should not “grill” their children, my reader commented:

Doesn’t this vary depending on the circumstances? If there is a good chance of abuse at the other parent’s home, having the kid discuss it directly with the other parent may not work well.

That’s completely correct. If your child tells you the other parent has been physically abusive, you should contact your attorney immediately. You should also contact The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, which has resources for victims of domestic violence. Your number-one priority should be your child’s safety.

In response to my suggestion that parents should not show children copies of the divorce paperwork, the reader commented:

It seems that the age of the child is also important. What is the reasoning behind not showing the children the divorce paperwork? This is probably the most important document affecting the kids’ lives and they can’t see it? Even if they are 15? 

If parents are fighting over custody of their children, there may be psychological evaluations, affidavits or a custody investigator’s report to the court about the placement of the children. 

Attorneys typically draft affidavits, and they frequently contain stinging barbs and accusations. 

Psychological evaluations and custody reports may include sensitive information about parents that, if revealed, could damage the parent-child relationship. 

Finally, in a contested custody case, one of the factors the court must consider is the preference of the child. To have a parent go through court documents with a child who has expressed a preference to a psychologist or custody investigator to live with the other parent creates a stressful and potentially emotionally damaging situation for the child.

Even if the parents are only fighting about property, the court documents may still reflect ongoing hostility between the parents. Showing children these court documents does nothing to further the kids’ emotional well-being.

Finally, parents may have reached an agreement on the division of their property, the custody of the children and child support. It is certainly reasonable to create a calendar that shows the custody schedule so parents and children can plan their activities, but the actual court documents usually address other things.

Court documents usually also address:

The parties’ financial agreements, including how they are going to share uncovered medical expenses

How child support is going to be calculated.

The decision to share information about the parents’ financial obligations to each other should be made jointly by the parties. If one parent unilaterally decides to share this information with the children, that parent may have an agenda that has nothing to do with the children’s best interests.

Posted in: Divorce