Contested custody cases are very very difficult on everyone. A caring parent wants to protect the child and wants the end result of the case to be in the child’s best interest. But the desire to win will be strong and there may also be a desire to retaliate against the other parent. Although such feelings are human, coaching a child can be costly.
“Coaching” a child occurs when someone directs, manipulates or guides a child in what to say or what not to say regarding the situation.
Here are some ways that it can happen:
- telling a child to keep secrets about abuse or bad behaviors in order to look better in court or guiding a child towards saying complimentary things in order to look better;
- putting it the idea in a child’s mind that there is abuse or mistreatment when there is not;
- helping a child form an opinion about matters that is intended to affect what is said in the case, rather than giving the child the safety and freedom to be honest;
- not allowing a child to express his/her concerns to a therapist, judge, attorney ad litem, amicus attorney, judge or other appropriate professional in the case without the feeling of a threat or disapproval in the background;
- speaking ill of the other parent, or other professionals in the case in front of the child in order to inform the child’s perceptions and feelings;
- Directly telling a child what to say or “rehearsing” to make a child more “comfortable”;
- attempting to exact revenge on the other parent by false accusations against him/her.
Coaching is very harmful to the child’s well-being and does not help the case. Despite the intricate planning that often goes into it, it is often painfully obvious. Needless to say, a judge will look very unfavorably on coaching and so will the other professionals involved in the case. The repercussions will persist for years, possibly forever. The child will remember being in the middle and not having a feeling of safety in honesty.
Although coaching may be tempting, don’t do it. Don’t sacrifice your credibility in the case. Most importantly, don’t sacrifice your child’s trust in you and his/her emotional well-being.
At Kalish Law Office we can help you through your difficult custody case. Se habla espanol.