What To Do About A Toxic Parent

Know Thy Enemy – Sun Tzu.

If you are ready to divorce, it is safe to say that you’ve had it up to here with your spouse.  If you have children, you may well also think that your spouse is a truly appalling parent.  Keep in mind that your current view of the person you married is now colored by emotion.  But what do you do when in point of fact your soon-to-be ex really does pose a danger to the health and well-being of your children?

Gather Intelligence.

Courts are reluctant to sever or even substantially restrict the parent-child relationship, but they will do so to further the best interests of the child.  Accordingly, if the thought of your spouse having unsupervised control over a child is terrifying you, then what you need is evidence that will move the court.  Start with obtaining a comprehensive background search.  Don’t settle for some superficial report from an internet website; you need to dig deep.  Spouses are sometimes shocked by what they find when a careful search is conducted for criminal records in prior states of residence, nationwide driving histories, records of schools attended and degrees actually attained, complaints registered with professional licensing agencies, etc.  Also, if you are not yet separated, gather all that you can in terms of joint financial records, phone records, computer files, and the like – before your only access will be through subpoena, if at all.

Launch An Offensive.

Married people typically believe that they know about every skeleton in their spouse’s closet – and they are often surprised to find that they didn’t know the half of it.  Keep in mind that there are many other people who know your spouse, some for even longer and perhaps even better than you do.  Astonishing facts are sometimes revealed during the course of a thorough canvassing of a spouse’s friends and enemies, colleagues and rivals alike.  And don’t stop with current acquaintances; as with the background search, you need to dig deep and into the past.

Engage In Espionage.

The fact that your spouse bad mouths you to the children, or is selfish or even inattentive, will not be enough to convince a court to limit parental custody and control.  For a court to sever or substantially restrict the parental relationship, your spouse has to be engaged in criminal or unsafe activities that truly threaten the well-being of the child.  While there are a variety of tools available to give you some idea of what your spouse has been up to (e.g., the new License Plate Recognition technology), there is still nothing out there to beat good, old-fashioned surveillance (especially surveillance conducted with all the modern technology).  A video of your spouse engaging in criminal and/or dangerous activities – and particularly exposing the children to such dangers – could be all you need to move the court.

Apply Pressure To Vulnerable Fronts.

However bad your spouse may be, chances are the divorce court has seen worse – and maybe still not severed the parental relationship.  But there is a common denominator among people who are engaged in criminal and reckless behavior:  They really don’t want any of that coming to light in court!  After you have combed through computer files and financial records, conducted surveillance, canvassed witnesses, and dug deeply into background, you will have located one or more of these critical vulnerable points – and gained some leverage.  Applying strategic pressure in the form of subpoenas and deposition notices could then yield a stipulated resolution that protects your children – and your spouse’s secrets.

Retain A Strategic Advisor.

This may be your first time on the frontlines of divorce; you need a battle-hardened veteran to advise you.  We’ve helped expose toxic parents in the past, and we know all the best strategies and tools for doing so.   If you are dealing with a reckless spouse who truly threatens the future well-being of your children, call Inter-State at (520) 882-2723.  We can supply the guidance and resources you need to achieve a successful resolution for both you and your children.

-Charles Grant