Co-parenting can be challenging, especially if the divorce was (or still is) less than amicable, and if there are major conflicts or disagreements between you and the other parent.
Still, being harassed by the co-parent is something that just shouldn’t happen. It’s a bad move for the harasser and it’s hard on the person who is being harassed. It can even be dangerous to the other parent and the children. In this blog post, let’s talk about what exactly co-parent harassment is and what you can do about it.
How Is the Co-Parent Harassing You?
Let’s start by looking at the various ways that co-parents have been harassing their children’s other parents. Some of that harassment might start out more as a case of bad manners than as harassment. Even harsh language or bossy behavior can cause damage, especially if it happens in front of the children. In fact, children who are forced to witness such harassment can be very traumatized from the experience.
Overall, such behavior is hurtful and can come back to bite the harasser as well. First, though, let’s take a look at the types of harassment you could encounter in a co-parenting situation.
What Kind of Harassment Could You Encounter from a Co-Parent?
Harassment can take a wide range of forms, from abusive language to non-stop calling or texting to outright stalking, threats, and physical assault to spreading rumors about you to friends, family members, as well as on social media. It can also include badmouthing the other parent to one’s children.
It also includes constantly criticizing you and everything about you, and calling you names, gaslighting, and hurting your relationship with your children by making the children participate in those activities.
There could even be more threatening activities, including showing up at your place of work or your home unannounced, shoving you and threatening you with bodily harm.
What To Do When Your Co-Parent Is Harassing You?
The first priority should always be to ensure your own and your children’s safety. If your co-parent seriously threatens you with harm or unacceptable intrusion, protect yourself and call the police. File a police report, and then talk to your lawyer.
In fact, you should talk to your lawyer no matter how serious the harassment is. Your legal representatives can help you determine whether you should get a restraining order, make changes to your custody arrangement, or change who has custody altogether.
Keep in mind that harassment is a crime, ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony, with ensuing penalties that can go far beyond losing custody for the harasser and can include prison sentences and fines.
Controlling the Situation
If there is even the possibility of harassment, as judged by harsh words and foul language or threats, you need to take precautionary measures.
These can include writing rules into the custody arrangements that directly address the fact that foul or threatening language has no place in the communication between yourself, your children’s other parent, and your children.
Keep Records of Co-Parent Harassment
In addition, it’s important to keep detailed records, with dates and details, in diary form and on a calendar, of any harassment incidents that occur. Collect other evidence as well, including texts and emails. Also save any instances of harassment on social media.
Part of that also involves things like recording phone conversations. Since Texas is a one-party consent state, a phone call can be recorded so long as one party in the phone call consents to recording the call. This means that it is legal to record harassing phone conversations.
It might also be necessary to restrict any communications to court ordered sites like My Family Wizard and Talking Parents so that communications can be monitored by your lawyers.
All of these things will be very valuable as your custody arrangements have to be reconsidered and adjusted. .
Do Not Retaliate
Whatever you do, do not retaliate. Not only can it escalate the situation and the harassment further, but it also takes away any advantages you might have. Just because you use only one foul or derogatory word to your co-parent’s ten, it drags you down to the same level in the eyes of the law and the judges.
What Are the Legal Ramifications of Harassment?
In Texas, harassment is considered a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity. Your attorney can help you evaluate the situation and what actions should be taken. This can include pressing charges or making changes to the custody agreement.
Remember that any custody arrangements are always to be in the best interest of the child, and if the child’s peace of mind and emotional wellbeing is threatened, adjustments need to be made to protect him or her.
Your Next Step
If you don’t already have an attorney who has experience with co-parent harassment, now is the time to seek out a lawyer you can trust. Call us today and set up your free consultation so you can get all your questions answered. We’ll be happy to talk with you and help you to keep you and your children safe.
What Are the Legal Ramifications of Harassment?
In Texas, harassment can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity. Your attorney can help you evaluate the situation and what actions should be taken. This can include pressing charges or making changes to the custody agreement.
Remember that any custody arrangements are always to be in the best interest of the child, and if the child’s peace of mind and emotional well-being is threatened, adjustments need to be made to protect him or her.
Tolerance of differences help reduce conflict etc.