By Daniel Exner
Dads seeking divorce advice frequently ask divorce lawyers about how to keep their ex-wives or soon-to-be-exes from saying negative things to the children about their father.
Many divorced parents will talk about the divorce case with their children, use the kids as messengers, or, in worse cases, fill their children’s heads with lies about the other spouse in an attempt to turn the children against the targeted parent.
While there are legal steps you can take to prevent your children from being exposed to the details of your case, practically speaking, these options may not produce the best results.
Family courts have jurisdiction over the parties involved in a divorce action and all their minor children. Most family law judges strenuously believe that the children should be kept out of the process as much as possible and look unfavorably upon any party who chooses to act otherwise.
To help keep children out of the fray, courts will sometimes issue orders that prohibit parties from making disparaging comments about the other, using the children as messengers, or introducing the children to new relations.
Furthermore, while you may be able to obtain these orders from a court, you may not practically have the ability to enforce them. Proving that your ex-wife is speaking poorly of you will be tough. Receiving a sanction from the court based on her contempt will be even tougher.
Moreover, the more you and the opposing party fight about the children, the more likely the court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL). A GAL is an attorney appointed to represent the best interests of the children.
If parties disagree on child custody or allege one party is acting against the best interests of the children, the court may ask a GAL to step in and make a recommendation on what should be done with the kids.
If you know that custody will be an issue, and would like a third party around to help prevent the opposing party from dragging your children into the divorce, requesting a GAL may be a smart move.
If you want to finish the divorce uncontested, quickly, and relatively inexpensively, you probably do not want a GAL to enter the case.