July 12, 2014 • By Dennis Beaver
“Many years ago I recall one of your columns talked about how nasty parents can be to each other and to the children when going through a divorce, frustrating visitation and contact. That’s what happening right now, to our son and daughter,” began a touching e-mail from all four in-laws.
“Would you please address these issues again – they read your column every week and may see themselves in what your describe.”
Lawyers who handle family law cases see a lot of world-class ugly behavior, especially where children are involved.
So, for readers going through a divorce who want tips on how to inflict lasting pain on your kids, then today’s article will be helpful and equally simple for both moms and dads. We begin with visitation – a proven way to surgically remove the innocence from childhood.
Where mom hates dad, she has custody of the children, and dad truly loves his kids, a proven method of driving him crazy is to frustrate visitation. Of course, few custodial parents with enough intelligence to understand the meaning of the words Contempt of Court will come right out and say, “No, I”m not letting you see the kids this weekend.”
Interference with or complete denial of visitation is usually much more covert.
“Gee, I’m so sorry,” she tells dad–through the closed front-door, “The kids are sick today and just can’t spend the weekend with you. But I’m sure they will be better next week,” she says with a tone of voice that test his self-restraint.
Next week comes and “They are just too busy with school work and haven’t got the time to spend with you.”
A cute variation on this theme is the mother who proclaims, “I have told the kids that you have the right to visit them. They do not want to see you and I’m not going to force them! After all, it was you who left us for that Korean woman! They know who truly loves them!”
Of course, she wasn’t Korean, but from Thailand, and Mom has earned an “A” for propaganda. True, she’s never said “Your father is worthless, dishonest, hates us and if you see him I will die,” but that’s the implication.
In one case where you could see steam coming out of mom’s ears, she placed yellow Post-It notes on the refrigerator–and throughout the house–that read, “Once we had a family, and then SHE came along and took dad away.”
Asked if, just maybe, this was a teensy-weensy hint that the children should become “Let’s Hate Dad” terrorists, with a straight face she said, “Of course not, I always tell the kids that their father loves them!”
Fathers are just as capable of horribly rotten behavior. Generally less creative than moms, dads usually do the expected: They just don’t show up for scheduled weekend visitation. For dads who are dedicated to causing life-long pain, this is highly effective.
It is sad beyond belief, the kids are all set to go with their father at the court-ordered time Friday evening, their little suitcases packed, and he’s a no-show.
Good for you, dad! You get an “A” for rejecting your own flesh and blood! But loving mothers who try to deflect this truly evil behavior often respond by trying to “cover” for him, saying that the was probably sick or stuck in traffic.
But in the depth of a child’s disappointment one simple message is received when he has not called that night or the next day: “Dad doesn’t love you.”
There is a certain look on the faces of these children. As they sit there in our waiting room, we see their sad faces. Divorce is hard enough. Kids so often blame themselves. Just how do you think they feel when their father won’t see them?
The holidays are a great time for truly award-winning, dishonest behavior. A classic is to re-wrap the gifts, throw away the card, and make it look as if there are no presents from the non-custodial parent.
The telephone is another superb weapon. If Wednesday at 7 p.m. is the scheduled time for a phone call, let’s keep the line busy–or just take the extension phone off the hook, or put the cell-phone on silent. “Gee, I don’t know what happened,” says the custodial parent, “We were waiting for your call.”Or perhaps it is the call that never is placed.
Yes, family law attorneys see a lot of ugly behavior in divorce. Just thinking about it– writing about it– makes me angry.
But much more angry at those lawyers who are fully aware of what their clients are doing and yet, say nothing.
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.