Getting a divorce or breaking up with your co-parent can be difficult enough. When you factor in child custody, child support, and harassment from your co-parent, the situation could be become much more tumultuous. Now, you’re wondering: what can you do if your co-parent is harassing you? By finding out the answer and taking legal action, you can be empowered and hopefully work out a favorable situation for you and your family.
Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC in Houston, Texas are certified in mediation, take a collaborative approach with their clients to reach solutions that work for their families, and are devoted entirely to the practice of family law. We are fierce advocates for our clients and we’d be happy to assist you with child custody issues like harassment. Reach out to us today for an initial consultation.
Co-parent harassment occurs when one parent is communicating with the other in a harassing or abusive way. It can also occur when a co-parent talks poorly about the other parent, spreading rumors or lies about them behind their back to others.
Often, they do this to try and intimidate the co-parent into some form of action, whether it’s to get them to stop asking for child support, deviating from the possession schedule, or other child related issues. Such actions could be a form of revenge for issues with their relationship or marriage. Harassment may be completely verbal, or it could result in physical violence as well. It could come in the form of endless phone calls and text messages, comments on social media, or emails.
Harassment not only causes tension in the co-parent relationship, but it can also lead to children feeling scared, confused, and anxious. Children that witness this behavior, may feel unsafe or turn on one parent – or both, out of frustration.
You know that harassment is never necessary, and that it can lead to all sorts of issues. However, now that it’s happening to you, what can you do about it?
Here are some places to start.
If the harassment is evolving into either stalking or the threat of physical violence, whether against your or the children, then you should contact the police immediately. Your personal safety and that of your children should always be your highest concern. This is especially crucial if you have a restraining or protective order against your ex and they are not complying with it. If you don’t have a restraining or protective order, you may need to get one.
You should reach out to your lawyer and let them know what’s happening. They will let you know how to communicate with your ex and what to do with the proof you have. If child custody is still being worked out, you could use the proof of harassment to try to get orders in place that prevent further harassing behavior and are healthy for you and the children.
If the harassment gets so bad that you believe it’s affecting your children, you could ask your lawyer if you should request a modification and any agreements or cour orders. It may not be safe for your children to be around your ex, especially if they’ve resorted to physical violence or they’ve become mentally unstable and are an unfit parent.
Of course, if violence is happening, you need to protect your kids. But if your ex hasn’t taken it that far, and your issues can be worked out, you’ll need to do it in the courtroom. There, the judge will make a custody decision based on what’s in the best interests of your children.
As tempting as it may be to defend yourself and get into arguments with your ex, you could be falling into a trap. Disagreements are bound to happen, but it is important to remain calm and reasonable. There are some litigants that record conversations without the knowledge of the other party in an effort to use your communication as evidence. Such actions could be manipulative to try to take away child custody or lie and make it like you’re an unstable parent.
Before you communicate with your ex, talk to your lawyer. They may advise you that if you need to talk with your ex, you keep it short and businesslike, ensuring that you’re cordial and firm.
You can set your boundaries, like telling them ways in which you’ll communicate. For example, you could say to your ex that you will only talk to them through text message. That way, if they do anything wrong, you have that evidence in writing. Also, if they can’t call you, they don’t have your full attention.
If your ex is harassing you on social media, you can block them. If people are telling you about rumors or lies your ex is spreading, tell them it’s something you’re working out with your ex and be as private as possible. Retaliating and getting friends and family members involved could only make the situation worse. You need to stay as neutral as possible, as hard as it may be.
You and your ex could agree to talk about issues like your child’s schooling and health and come up with a shared custody log. This log could include information on your child’s time with each parent, your child’s health, what’s going on at school, their diet, activities they attend, events they go to, and upcoming appointments they have. Another option is to use a shared custody calendar for transparency and to stay on track.
No matter what, you should keep the drama far away from your children. Never communicate to your ex through your children or disparage your ex in front of your kids. The end of your relationship was likely tough enough on them, and they need to be protected and shielded at this time. If you are feeling scared, worried, or angry, it’s best to talk to the appropriate parties instead of your children.
If you and/or your children have therapists, it’s best to reach out to them during this time. Your therapist can help you, and their therapist can help them process their feelings. Harassment can be very tough on little kids especially because they don’t know how to regulate their feelings. A therapist can guide them on how to work through feelings.
Getting harassed is extremely upsetting, but you do have help. If you need assistance with issues such as harassment, you can reach out to Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC for help. We’ll work hard on your child custody agreement and be your source of support in your time of need. Make sure you get in touch online or by calling us at (713) 333-4430. We look forward to assisting you at this time.
Attorney Shannon Boudreaux at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC in Houston, TX offers the extensive experience and supportive guidance clients need to get through their divorce or other family matter as favorably as possible.
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