Unfortunately, it is all too common for parties whose relationship has broken down to make highly disparaging or abusive comments to one another. At some point, such comments can rise to the level of threats or harassment and, thereby, justify an order of protection. In most cases, however, the disparaging and abusive comments do not rise to the level of domestic violence. When the parties to a divorce have children, making such comments can have an impact on custody issues, and the court may have the ability to protect the innocent spouse through appropriate court orders. If you are the victim of severe inappropriate comments, there are things you can do to protect yourself. Consulting an experienced Chicago divorce attorney is an important step.
Couples that are separating can sometimes find themselves having difficulty communicating civilly with one another. Derogatory and abusive comments, however, are not appropriate or justifiable, and usually make resolving important issues more difficult and costly. When the parties have children, such comments can, if made to or in front of the children, harm them and significantly complicate the resolution of custody and parenting issues.
Before email and text communications, in most cases derogatory and abusive comments were made verbally, which raised evidentiary issues. With email and text messages having become a primary means of communication for many people, derogatory and abusive comments now appear in writing and are easily presentable to courts. Courts can also see the flow of the discussion and determine if the parties were mutually engaged in such behavior, or if one of the parties was at fault. Having a series of derogatory and abusive comments you have made to your spouse presented in open court is both embarrassing and potentially problematic in a number of separate ways. First, the comments may support your spouse’s argument that you and your spouse are unable to discuss issues concerning your children, which can support a claim for sole legal custody. Second, if derogatory comments about your spouse are made to or in front of your children, it can lead to further adverse actions by the court against you. Third, sending derogatory and abusive comments to your spouse might help convince a judge that you will not support a strong relationship between your children and the other spouse, which can have significant negative consequences in a custody fight.
A broad range of comments can be derogatory or abusive. Some judges believe using all capitalization, depending on the context, is inappropriate. More serious are the profanity-laced communications. Both parties should also avoid making negative comments, for example, about your spouse’s appearance, family, past history, or prior relationships. Parties should also avoid making lurid accusations against the other spouse directly to that spouse. If your spouse is, in fact, engaging in lurid and improper conduct, it may become relevant in a divorce. You should raise the issue with your attorney and discuss whether the issue needs to get raised with the court, how to raise it, and how you intend to factually prove the accusation.
When you are receiving derogatory and abusive communications, it can be difficult to refrain from retaliating. In a divorce proceeding, this is never a good course of action. When you receive such communications from your spouse, it is important that you notify your attorney and discuss your options on how to respond.
You and your children have an undeniable right to live free of abusive behavior. The compassionate divorce attorneys at The Law Offices of George M. Sanders in Chicago dedicate their practice to helping clients like you obtain divorces and custody orders that support their rights and help protect their safety. To learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.