Expectation of Privacy


#1

Hello,

When talking with my step-sons, my husband and I have heard his ex-wife in the background telling his children what to say to us and telling us what not to say when asking them questions, please know that the boys are 10 and 12. We are not asking anything that needs her assistance usually just things about how school is going and what has been going on in their freetime. When talking to the oldest on Sunday and asking him about a school project she was heard in the background saying “You don’t have to talk to him about this” when his father asked him to elaborate on the project. We have had issues with her in the past listening to the conversations and the children getting upset because of her interpretation and her grilling them and then confronting us about something that doesn’t warrant a confrontation. She often becomes visually upset when the children speak to us, as reported by the children, and as a result the children have said they didn’t want to talk to us about certain things because “it makes mom sad”. This all happens when we are actually allowed to talk to them. We have a court order in place giving us the right to talk to them a minimum of 3 times a week for up to 30 minutes each call. We don’t call them that frequently because we understand they have lives devoid of us and how intrusive this can be, so we usually call them on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. She doesn’t answer her cell phone (the only point of contact we have for the children) and will not tell the children we even called to give them an opportunity to call us back so as a result we can go several weeks without talking to the boys and for no lack of trying. We have noticed the children are become distant and less willing to talk and open up giving us often one word answers and will often not even say “I love you” at the end of the call as they have always done in the past.

In our court order there is a clause forbidding one parent from saying or doing anything to allienate the children from the other parent but that obviously isn’t the case. We live out of state and only see the children a few times a year so these conversations are truly a life line for us to them and for them to us. We can’t afford an attorney to bring this to court and have the judge give the ex a slap on the wrist and 2 weeks later be back in the same boat because we’ve been down that road and here we are again. Other than court is there another option that we can pursue to ensure that we are involved as much as possible with the boys because there mother obviously doesn’t see the importance in this. Also, I understand the children are minors but is there an expectation of privacy when communicating with one parent or the other?

Thanks!


#2

There is nothing that you can do to enforce the court order besides take her back to court. If you don’t want to do that, I would suggest a letter detailing your complaints and expressing to her that if she doesn’t stop interfering with your phone conversations and listening in on them, that you will be forced to file a motion for order to appear and show cause.

There is no rule or law regarding an expectation of privacy for your particular situation.