Parental Conduct Orders
In all dissolution/divorce actions where children are involved, parents all too often use children as a tool, weapon or personal possession. Parents must understand that it took two individuals to bring their child into the world and it takes two parents to raise children.
Under California statutes, it is presumed that it is in the best interest of the child that there be two (2) parents in their lives. It is also presumed that it is in the best interest of all children that they have equal access to both parents.
With this in mind, there is a expectation on the part of attorneys and the courts that parents will behave in a certain way. That being parents and NOT adversaries. However all too often parents lose sight of the needs of their children and focus on their wants not what the needs of their children are. Parents fall into a pattern of interrogating their children, passing messages between them through the children, resorting to corporal punishment, showing the children the documents from court and talking to their children about court proceedings, and disparaging the other parent to the children and allowing others to do so in front of the children, and exposing children to domestic violence. THIS IS CHILD ABUSE. This behavior can and could result in the loss of custody of children to the other parent and the offending parent may end up with professionally supervised visitation.
To help understand some of the foregoing will be defined:
Domestic Violence is: This is abuse or threats of abuse where two individuals have been in or are in a intimate relationship. This is being married or domestic partners, dating or used to date, live or lived together, having a child together, or when the abused person and the abusive person are closely related by blood or by marriage.
The domestic violence laws say "abuse" is:
- Physically hurting or trying to hurt someone, intentionally or recklessly;
- Sexual assault;
- Making someone reasonably afraid that they or someone else are about to be seriously hurt (like threats or promises to harm someone); OR
- Behavior like harassing, stalking, threatening, or hitting someone; disturbing someone's peace; or destroying someone's personal property.
- The physical abuse is not just hitting. Abuse can be kicking, shoving, pushing, pulling hair, throwing things, scaring or following you, or keeping you from freely coming and going. It can even include physical abuse of the family pets.
Corporal Punishment This is ANY hitting or the use of ANY physical force on a minor child in anger or as any form of dicipline.Interrogation
This is asking a minor child about ANYTHING occurring in the other parent's home. It is asking the minor child anything about what the other parent is doing, what the child had for dinner, where did you go with the other parent. It is asking about the other parent's new significant other and how they are treating the child. It is any prying into the private life of the other parent and the other parent's interaction with the minor child.
Because the bad behavior of parents listed above the court's routinely make a standard parent conduct order. The orders which the court's routinely make are as follows:
- PEACE AND RESPECT: The parents shall conduct themselves peacefully and respectfully toward the other parent at all times and shall make all reasonable efforts to ensure that their friends, family members and their associates do so as well.
- DISPARAGEMENT: Neither parent shall make or allow any other individual to make any disparaging or negative remark or remarks about the other parent or the other parent's past or present relationships, family, or friend when in the presence of or within hearing of the minor children. Both parents shall refer to the other parent with respect at all times that the children are within hearing distance and on any social media sites used by either parent.
- EXPOSURE TO LITIGATION: Neither parent shall ever show or read any court document or documents to the minor children or describe any court documents to the minor children. Neither parent shall ever permit their minor children to read any court documents at any time. Neither parent shall discuss any court document with the minor children and they shall not discuss with their minor children or allow any other individual to discuss with the minor children what they or the other parent are requesting, may be requesting, or is believed to be requesting in any family court proceeding including but not limited to child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, property issues or any other issue in the divorce or custody proceedings before any court.
- LIMITS ON COMMUNICATION: Neither parent shall communicated about the case with any individual or person in the presence of or within the hearing of the minor children.
- INTERROGATION: Neither parent shall interrogate or permit any other individual at any time to interrogate the minor children regarding the other parent's behavior, activities, lifestyle, friends or associates or about any disputed child custody or visitation issues. This includes but is not limited to asking your child where they want to live, what they think of the other parent, what they had for dinner, where they went aor what they did with the other parent.
- DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Neither parent shall expose the minor children to any domestic violence or domestic abuse, physical or emotional or verbal, as defined by Family Code section 6203.
- CORPORAL PUNISHMENT: Neither parent shall use corporal punishment on the children, including but not limited to spanking, slapping, hitting, paddling, pinching, pushing, or otherwise deliberately inflicting physical pain or distress upon a child, nor shall either parent even threaten a minor child with any of the above or permit any other person or individual to do so.