Communication and Keeping the Kids Out of the Middle

The end of any relationship is difficult regardless of the circumstances. When going through a divorce or custody dispute, it is normal for the parties to not want to speak with one another as often as they did when they were together. In some cases, they may not want to speak at all. Although this is understandable, it often comes with a price. Unfortunately, it is often the children who get caught in the middle between parents who want nothing to do with each other. The child suddenly becomes a messenger, which is something Judges despise. In fact, any person who has been before a Judge in a case involving custody issues will likely have heard a warning that under no circumstances are parents to discuss court matters with the child or within their earshot and similarly, the children are never to be used as messengers.

This is something that has proven to be easier said than done for many parents. Often times, many parents don’t even realize they are transporting messages through their children because the messages themselves are seemingly harmless. For example, mom might say “don’t forget to tell dad you have a project due Monday” or dad might say “remember to tell mom she needs to sign your permission slip.” While these messages seem harmless, it places a burden on the child that he/she should not have to bear. The discussion of using children to share information amongst parents is a hotly discussed topic amongst child therapists. As many therapists point out, using a child as a messenger between the parents places undue stress on a child and can ultimately cause the child to blame themselves when their parents don’t get along or argue. For example, a young child might forget to relay the message from one parent to the other thereby creating an argument. The child might then take the view that the argument is his/her fault for forgetting to relay the message in the first place. Given this potential impact on a child’s emotional wellbeing, it is extremely routine for Judges to include a provision in custody orders that mandates that neither parent shall discuss any custody disputes with the minor child or allow other third parties to discuss custody disputes within earshot of the children. For some parents, a phone call or text to the other parent can simply seem unbearable. Fortunately, there are new communication tools tailored specifically to parents who find themselves enmeshed in a custody dispute where conversations might not always stay civil. For example, Our Family Wizard is a online tool that keeps track of all communication between the parents. It even has a “tone meter” that monitors the tone of a conversation.

Divorce and custody cases are difficult and it can be hard to want to speak with the other parent depending on the circumstances. Here at Mello & Pickering, LLP with over 30 years combined experience, we know the ins and outs of the custody and divorce process and can make sure that your divorce is resolved as easily and efficiently as possible.