Whether you are recently separated and pursuing a divorce, or already divorced and well-entrenched in a custody arrangement with another parent, having your ex-spouse talk badly about you to your children is, at best, annoying and, at worst, creating lasting divisions and damage to your parent-child relationship, which could persist indefinitely. As members of a free society, we are all entitled to voice our opinions, but you also do not have to sit back and tolerate another parent’s destructive criticism of you when it is levelled at the children you are trying to raise properly. As Virginia divorce lawyers, we see this situation often, and our perspective is below.
Will Confronting the Other Parent Work?
If you have been married to another person, had children with that person, and then ended the relationship, you presumably have some sense of how that person operates and how they will react to confrontation. In light of that, a basic question for you to ask is: Will confronting my ex to tell him or her that I would prefer they avoid speaking badly about me to our children actually make him or her think twice about what they are doing? Or will doing so be considered one more thing for him/her to complain to my kids about?
If it is the latter, then confronting your ex may give you some satisfaction about doing something to show that you know you are being disrespected and refuse to accept it, but it will not actually help the bottom line goal of improving your relationship with your children. In answering the above question, you do have to keep in mind that your ex may be hurting from the relationship’s end and struggling in their own way to adapt to a new life, and the stress of those things, combined with human imperfection, could be leading to a thoughtless but fixable pattern of badmouthing you to the kids. But if the talk is a product of a conscious, mean-spirited spite towards you intended to damage your relationship with your children, there are things you can do in response.
Considering a Change in Custody/Visitation
Virginia determines child custody and visitation arrangements based on the best interests of the child, and a judge who makes the custody and visitation determinations will look to a list of factors under state law in analyzing the best interests of the child. In Virginia, a number of these factors deal with each parent’s willingness to contribute to the child’s relationship with the other parent, as state policy generally promotes a child having ongoing contact and relationships with each parent, barring the presence of a danger to the child, i.e. domestic violence.
If your ex is preventing you from having the relationship with your child that is in the child’s best interest by sabotaging your relationship via hurtful things said to the child about you, you can motion the court for a change in custody or visitation to diminish the other parent’s role in the child’s life and thus the toxic statements made about you. In Virginia, you can go to court to seek this change based on a change in circumstances since the initial custody order, which could include another parent’s disparaging statements regarding you.
Talk to a Virginia family law attorney to determine whether another parent’s behavior rises to the level of forming the basis of a motion to modify a custody or visitation order.
Schedule a Consultation With a Virginia Family Law Attorney Today
At Kurylo Gold & Josey, PLC in Fredericksburg, we will guide through all of your questions regarding a potential divorce, and help you work towards a favorable outcome in your family law matter. To schedule a consultation with one of our Virginia family law attorneys, contact Kurylo Gold & Josey, PLC at 540.642.1766.