What parents should know about non-disparagement clauses

Parenting a child with someone whom you do not like or trust is no easy task. If you are in this situation, you can feel scared, anxious and angry about how the other parent treats a child and what he or she might say to the child about you.

If you anticipate these types of challenges as you work out custody issues, then you might consider including a non-disparagement clause in your custody agreement. Below, we explain what this clause is and how it might improve your relationship with your child and the other parent of your child.

What is a non-disparagement clause?

A non-disparagement clause in a custody order prohibits parents — and often their extended family members — from speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the children.

How can it help our custody arrangement?

As this FindLaw.com article notes, disparagement can be a form of custodial interference. It can create avoidable tension and distrust between parents, making it more difficult to co-parent effectively.

Further, when a court order prohibits parents from speaking negatively in front the child, the child can have a more positive experience with each parent. Without this agreement, children can feel angry, sad or guilty when they are with a disparaged parent. A non-disparagement clause protects children from parental alienation and feeling as if they have to take sides.

What if one of us violates the agreement?

It can be difficult to confirm that one parent has violated a non-disparagement agreement. However, there are ways to do it, and you can work with an attorney to assess your legal options. Depending on the violations and behaviors involved, a disparaging parent could be warned by the courts or he or she could face more severe penalties, like loss of parenting time.

Refraining from speaking negatively about your ex in front of your children can be a considerable challenge, particularly in the weeks and months immediately after a bitter split. However, doing so can be critical if you have a non-disparagement clause in place and in an effort to shield your child from some of the pain of divorce.