Sometimes during divorce, paternity, or other contested custody cases, clients will wonder how to the court will view them for disliking their former spouse or significant other. Will the court judge him or her poorly for disliking the other parent of his or child? Will the court make decisions that adversely affect custody or parenting time for the parent that doesn’t like the other parent?
The simple general answer is no, a court will not likely dole out justice unfairly because you simply don’t like the other person. It is pretty fair to assume that spouses or former partners, significant others, boyfriend/girlfriends don’t end up in a court proceeding for divorce or child custody/parenting time disputes, because they still like each other.
As a general rule of thumb, courts are concerned not with weather you like or dislike your child’s other parent, but how you interact with that person for the sake of the child. Disagreements like “he’s a spender and I’m a saver” or “he keeps a messy house and I keep a tidy house” “I eat all organic and she eats McDonalds three times a week” or “we have totally different personalities” all are reasons likely leading to the eventual break up of the relationship. However, if you let these dislikes about the other person weave into your ability to communicate and make decisions for your child, the courts will take notice. For example, name calling is something frowned upon by most courts, even if the child does not see/hear these conversations, it shows a lack of respect for the other parent. While it may be true you don’t respect them on a personal level, it is not appropriate to voice that to them, and in a way it could be seen or heard by a court (i.e. a text message saying “I don’t like you because you are a ___”).
In contested custody matters, it is inherent you don’t “like” the other person. But, you have to be able to communicate about the child together, work through differences and discuss the child’s best interests in order to maintain an ongoing and significant relationship with the child. Even if the other parent makes it difficult for you, pushes all of your buttons and angers you, a court will look at how you react to this and which party is the “unreasonable” one, or the one “interfering” with the other parent’s ability and right to parent. Thus, even if you do not “like” your ex spouse or ex boyfriend/girlfriend, it is important to maintain your composure while communicating with them about the child, and keep your communications centered on the child, a and not your personal feelings about the other parent.
Whenever your case is before a court, your behavior, interactions, and communications are under a microscope. A judge is a neutral third part that is supposed to look at these contested matters, judge the parties, and issue rulings. Your behavior will be brought to light in court, good or bad, and you might as well put your best foot forward. Even after court is over, there are certainly benefits to keeping your communications with your ex cordial and child centered. It is not likely you will be judged for simple dislike of another person, as if you liked them and could get along, they probably wouldn’t be an ex after all. But mean or malicious behavior, making comments that hit below the belt, and being disrespectful could land you in the hot seat with a judge.
We hope that you have found this information to be helpful in understanding what behaviors a court will look at and consider when making judgments about child custody related matters as it relates to your interactions with your former significant other. This is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your specific case, CIYOU & DIXON, P.C. can help evaluate your specific case. This blog post was written by Attorney, Lori B. Schmeltzer.