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Those Sneaky Kids - Blocking Your Children’s Access to Litigation

Let me start by expressing that you absolutely need to take precautions and block children from all litigation related communication. 

Eighth Judicial District Court Rule (“EDCR”) 5.301 requires that children be shielded from litigation including restricting access to materials that children might be able to access. Take precautions by setting passwords that are difficult for children to memorize and not giving children access to devices where material related to litigation can be accessed.

Besides litigation materials, parents should shield from parental communication and co-parenting. Children should not know that their parents do not like each other. Children should not know that there is a dispute about a vacation being taken with a parent. Children are curious, so it is up to parents to ensure that they do not have access to these materials. If you have a curious child, you know and should take extra steps to protect your children.  

Let’s use an example of a parent having their children read a Motion that has been filed. Believe it or not, parents actual sit their children down and give them documents that have been filed with the Court. Often, it comes to light, children tell someone, and the Court learns of the inappropriate behavior of the parent. It is never acceptable for a child to be given materials directly or to leave material where children can access the materials.

If a client came to me with this issue, my advice would be to: 

(1.) take responsibility for the inappropriate behavior and accept responsibility;

(2.) have a plan in place to tell the other co-parent and Court what steps you are taking in the future to avoid the behavior;

(3.) look at ways to place material away from children which might be worth keeping; and 

(4.) suggest counseling for the child.

Let’s use an example of non-litigation material being accessed by a child, such as a child is caught going through a parent’s cell phone and taking photographs of the text messages. Initially, I think that there must be something/someone who requested the child to take this action because it does not seem like something a child would do on their own. This could be a sign of a coaching/triangulation issue that should be addressed immediately to avoid future problems.

Triangulation is where a child is pulled into a parental relationship. The communication between the parents is no longer a straight line – it is a triangle. The child is drawn into parental drama and conflict. Sometimes, the child becomes vested in the triangulation and aligns with a parent. This causes emotional trauma for the child and places the child under severe stress. Parents must take steps to avoid this type of breakdown in their communication to avoid placing the child in conflict.

If a client came to me with this issue my advice would be to: 

(1.) change all passwords; 

(2.) restrict the child's access to all electronic devices where things could be shared with the other co-parent; 

(3.) discuss with the other co-parent the behavior and ask for suggestions on proper punishment for the behavior; and 

(4.) suggest counseling for the child.

These tips are helpful to maintaining healthy relationships with the other parent and reduce the stress on a child in a child custody dispute.