Category Archives: Honesty

Think before you act.

Mother and father arguing in front of Christmas tree, children sitting in the corner

As the holiday season approaches please realize that your children did not ask to have families that live separate and apart. It is important to follow the court order, if you and your ex cannot agree otherwise. Ignoring the terms of a court order can be detrimental for the entire family.

When one parent decides to unilaterally change the terms of a court order, the child is often put in the middle of the situation, which usually escalates to a battle. Often the children are aware they are supposed to be going with the other parent and are disappointed, and sometimes think, they are being stood-up (creating hostility).

Boy with teddy bear and parents fighting

The parent who does not receive his/her parenting time often has plans that either needs to be changed or cancelled altogether. If they decide to continue with the plans (without their children) than very often every family member comments about the non-complying ex and their evil behaviors. These comments are often heard by the children at future family functions. The children become sad or angry with their family and/or either parent.

Whether the court order was decided either by an agreement of the parties or by a judge, someone decided that the schedule was in the best interest of your children. To simply disrupt the schedule because you decided is not in the best interest of the children.

While we all understand that the holidays are meaningful and important and you want your children with you, it cannot always be that way growing up in separate homes. That is just something you have to accept as a parent and try to consider the other parent and most importantly your children.

Assuming a parent breaches the court order then the party who lost the parenting time may seek a complaint for contempt. In that contempt action the non-complying party may be responsible to 1) provide additional parenting time, 2) loose parenting time at the next scheduled holiday, 3) be responsible for other parent attorney’s fees and costs, 4) loose custody of the children, and/or 5) be sentenced to the house of corrections.

Honesty

I cannot stress enough the need to be completely truthful with your attorney in all cases (except maybe criminal). They should not judge you but they need to know all the facts, good and bad, prior to going to court.

All too often clients want to be selective on which is facts are disclosed. At the end of the day it only makes your attorneys job even harder. If there are skeletons in your closet and your attorney knew what they were then they can come up with a game plans as to how to minimize the effects of those skeletons, or even eliminate them all together.

If on the other hand, you do not disclose those skeletons then often your ex knows, tells their attorney and now it is being used against you. Since you did not disclose it to your attorney the attorney if often scrambling as the judge inquires, tries to deflect the questions, or, worse yet, just looks at you unable to answer.

The most often types of skeletons that come up in family law pertain to the following:

  • DCF involvement (past or present)
  • Criminal history
  • Use of drugs (including marijuana)
  • Abuse of alcohol
  • Domestic violence on any partner (past or present)
  • Restraining orders sought or obtained (past and present)
  • Written agreement between the parties (whether a court order or not)
  • Emails or text messages between the parties
  • Custody and parenting schedule for other children not subject to this case

This is only a partial list. In any civil cases or housing court cases the list above may be applicable, in addition to housing code violations, section 8, leases (written or otherwise), agreed upon reimbursements.

Provide your attorney will all the knowledge they need to best advise you and to defend your actions. Realistically this should be done in the initial consultation, or once the issues arise after the attorney has been retained.