Though we’ve covered a great deal in all of the other categories under false allegations, we thought it would do some good to add a page that covers what we’ll call – General Harassment. Restraining Order abuse is rampant and it’s almost an unavoidable by-product of the high-conflict divorce and custody situation. It’s the weapon of choice by the vindictive ex-spouse to drive the targeted parent out of the home and to separate that parent from the children. In all but the fewest jurisdictions, all it takes is a simple accusation for one to be issued and it can put the targeted parent far behind the 8-ball when it comes to custody proceedings.
Therefore, it is of paramount importance that you take steps to avoid even the slightest appearance of any type of harassment that can turn into an accusation of verbal abuse, stalking, harassment, making terroristic threats, etc. The following suggestions are in no particular order or category and may cover one or more potential perilous situations that could serve to undermine your case.
- Go low-contact (or, if children are not involved – no-contact). See our Communications Page and sub-categories for more details.
- Emails should be short and to the point. Topics should be bulleted-points and be relevant to matters pertaining to the children only. They should be devoid of any abusive language, threats, or intimidation. Leave emotion out of written correspondence.
- Phone communication should be rare, if ever. Discussions should be recorded, with all parties asking for and acknowledging permission for the discussion be recorded within the recording itself. If permission is denied, end the call. Always be calm, courteous, and use no abusive language, make no threats, and don’t be intimidating.
- Phone communication should be relegated to serious emergency situations only and only if the emergency impacts the children in some relevant way.
- Child exchanges should be done at a neutral site, preferably in a very public place. Child exchanges should not be done at the homes to avoid being set-up for potential trespassing charges or worse.
- If court ordered to do exchanges at the homes, bring a video camera and/or a third-party to witness the exchanges. Never go to the door. You can honk or text your arrival for the exchange. If you must call, simply say, “I’m here, send the children out. Thanks.” and hang up.
- Do not call the ex-partner unnecessarily. Frequent calls can bolster a claim of harassment and evidence of many calls is easy to obtain and produce for court.
- Never put yourself in a position to be alone with the ex-partner. We’ve heard stories of high-conflict ex-spouses actually hurting themselves, sometimes seriously, in the aftermath of a seemingly harmless meeting and charges brought against the target parent.
- Sit away from the high-conflict ex at children’s activities to avoid the appearance of being intimidating or stalking.
- If you’re the new partner of the target parent, avoid any involvement in any matters related to the divorce or custody proceedings. Leave no documented or recorded evidence of taking part in any communications with the high-conflict ex. We know of situations where that person has been slapped with a restraining order on the basis of “stalking” simply for supporting and/or helping their partner with situations. Be the “invisible supporter.” Offer all of the input and assistance you’re asked for, but put your name on nothing!
- Don’t do the ex any “favors.” We’ve seen the “good guy” or “good girl” do something to help out the ex-partner, primarily due to consideration for the children, only to have a bad situation occur. Don’t run errands, pick up prescriptions, fix the car, drop them off, pick them up. They very likely have any number of people or other resources to assist them with any given situation. You’re no longer their spouse/significant other. Stop acting like you are.