My ex-wife is overly critical of my parenting style because I sometimes yell at my children when they are misbehaving and let them watch scary movies with me. I am worried this might cause me to lose child custody.
I never threaten, harm, or touch my children in any way; I just tend to raise my voice when the kids aren’t respecting me.
She is constantly telling me what movies they are not allowed to watch and sends me little messages reminding me to “stay calm.” I feel like this is harassment.
Should I be worried that these issues could come out in a possible future child custody modification hearing? I feel like sometimes yelling at the kids and letting them watch scary movies with me is not enough to lose my kids, but I fear she will try to make that happen.
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Indiana child custody laws where I am licensed to practice.
Unfortunately, it does not appear from the facts presented that your ex-wife’s actions rise to the level of harassment. She is allowed to raise the issue both with you and with the court if she feels it is necessary.
One issue will likely be not how you intended the yelling, but how the children perceived it. This is not to say that the court will find a problem for you scolding your children or disciplining them. Courts understand that children misbehave and need correction and discipline from parents.
Parents also have the right to determine how their children are raised, and that can include which movies are appropriate for viewing.
However, if issues are presented such as inappropriate material being shown to minor children, courts may get involved. If the movies are age appropriate based on the ratings, the courts will likely not get involved in such issues though.
You have a right to parent your children in their time with you and the children’s mother has the same right in her parenting time with the children, under the guidelines of what was laid out in your child custody arrangement However, if an issue arises regarding the other parent’s conduct with the children, it is appropriate to raise it with the other parent, or if necessary, with the court.
If the issues are brought before the court, the judge will then evaluate the evidence presented by you and the evidence presented by your ex-wife. There are several different methods the court may use to determine what would be in the best interests of your children, if the issue is brought to court.
In order to get a better understanding of what is being said with the raised voice or how the children feel after being yelled at, depending on the age of the children, the court may speak to the children in his office in an in camera interview without the presence of either you or your ex-wife or the judge may order that a Guardian Ad Litem be appointed.
The Guardian Ad Litem will be able to speak with the children, friends, teachers, and others involved in the children’s life and issue a report to the court. The Guardian Ad Litem’s role would be to look at what would be in the best interests of the children.
Another action the judge may take if he feels your ex-wife’s concerns are valid and wishes to investigate further would be to order a custody evaluation. A custody evaluator is typically a mental health professional who will evaluate the children’s mental health and your relationship with them.
Additionally, if the court finds your ex-wife’s concerns to be valid, the court may order supervised parenting time for a while.
Courts have a great deal of discretion in family law cases and their decision will be based on what is in the best interests of the children. There is no way to tell how the court will rule or if any of the above methods will be utilized, however, they are tools available to the judge.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction.