Alienation of the children's affection

I really don’t think that preparing your children to deal with his ADD or night terrors could be construed as making “disparaging remarks”. As far as not getting in the car with him if he has been using or abusing substances…I’d make sure they know how to call 911 and if they feel he isn’t being safe then have them call. Kids know when mommy or daddy isn’t “acting right”. I wouldn’t risk my child’s life.
AA is more along the lines of running someone down or by saying untruthful things that make the child think that the parent doesn’t love them.

Uhmmm…I’m not sure that you can put something like that into a legal document. I may be wrong but doesn’t that directly violate the Constitution’s Bill of Rights on free speech?
You can not control what someone else says or does. It’s silly (IMHO) of any parent to believe that they can control what the other parent says to the children. It would be nice to have the courts give a list of things that you can not say to your child about their mother or father but that’s simply not going to happen. What would your spouse do? Spend $1000’s in court cost and attorney fees to take you to court because you tell your children that you think your husband has a problem with ADD?

Your children’s safety comes first and if that means that you have to make your stbx angry or defensive then so be it. The children need to know what to do in case they feel that they are in danger. If they feel or know that he has been drinking or using then they should contact you. Driving while impaired is illegal and you have the right to pick up your children to keep them from that situation, especially if you have custody. Not to keep them from visitations, but for immediate safety should the need arise. Have them call 911 and then call you. Let your spouse know that you feel that this is a matter of protecting your children not about hurting him and that you would hope he would prepare the children with the facts of any condition or situation if the situation were reversed. That is their father and you are their mother. Nothing that you say or he says is going to change the fact that they love you.

It might be best to meet with a counselor and discuss this issue with them prior to speaking to the children. I would not mention to the children that you believe their father self medicates or has drug problems. However, it may be appropriate to tell them that he may have nightmares and what to do if he has one while the children are with him.

Speaking to the children about what is essentially a medical condition is not considered alienation. This language is fairly standard in court orders and parenting agreements.

Helena M. Nevicosi
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

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In the draft of a separation agreement my spouse wants “no disparaging remarks that might alienate the children’s affection.” My spouse has untreated adult ADD with night terrors and self-medication. In order to prepare my children for unsupervised visitation with him, I want to discuss how they can handle nighttime needs that might place them in danger and riding in the car with their father when he is using or abusing substances. I have used books to explain things to them in the past but my spouse is very sensitive about the ADD issue. How can we handle this in the separation agreement?