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Divorce and Non-Disparagement Agreements

We look forward to passing down traditions from one generation to the next as we approach the holidays. Our families will be celebrated, we will embrace togetherness, and we will hope for the future. Unfortunately, for those who have gone through a divorce or are still in the process of getting divorced, the holidays can be difficult. Many parents struggle to adjust to their new reality as single parents. They may try to hold on to traditions or create new ones to meet their new circumstances. Sadly, sometimes holiday gatherings can now feel like an interrogation into their choices, their lives, or even a public bashing of the person they once loved and were married to.

Many children become unknowing or unwilling participants in the public condemnation of your ex-spouse. It can be shocking what adults will talk about in front of children, especially in front of the person’s child. Your ex-spouse or another close family member may begin talking about how terrible you are in front of your children. 

Your ex-spouse may make comments in the presence of your children that burden them with the responsibility of justifying how you split your holiday. Your ex may comment on how your family dynamics are all wrong, criticizing you and your parental choices. Children may unknowingly absorb the negative comments and characterization of you. Are there any options that would allow your children to avoid hearing disparaging comments related to the divorce? Yes, you can pursue adding a non-disparagement clause to your child custody agreement.



What is a Non-Disparagement Clause?

If you are going through a divorce involving minor children in Utah, a non-disparagement clause could help you and your children smoothly transition to your new normal. A non-disparagement clause is a class added to a child custody agreement. This clause prohibits the parents from speaking negatively about each other in front of their children. In some cases, the non-disparagement clause is written in a way that prohibits parents and other members of their household from saying anything negative about the other parent.

Essentially, a non-disparagement clause restricts what parents can say about the other parent when they are talking to their children or third parties with the children present. If you are interested in adding a non-disparagement clause to your child custody agreement, it is essential that you consult with a Salt Lake City divorce attorney. One of our skilled divorce attorneys can help you draft a legally enforceable custody agreement with a well-written non-disparagement clause that will protect you and your spouse from being dragged through the mud in front of the children.


Do I Need a Non-Disparagement Clause?

Many parents pursuing a divorce think that they will never talk badly in front of their soon-to-be ex-spouse in front of their children. The couple may begin the divorce process on good terms and attempt to pursue a no-fault divorce. In some cases, parents can get through the divorce process without disparaging each other. However, when the divorce process unfolds, the couple may discover that they were not on the same page. Issues regarding the division of debt and assets, child custody matters, and more can cause bitter disagreements that result in one party disparaging the other party. 

For this reason, non-disparagement clauses have become more popular in child custody cases across Utah and other states. If you have concerns about your spouse disparaging you in front of your children, or if you know this is already happening, it is worth considering pursuing a non-disparagement clause to protect your child’s relationship with you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

A non-disparagement clause is not a magic wand that will prevent you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse from arguing or making negative comments. However, it may effectively prevent most of the negative statements, including subtle digs about the other parent. When there is a non-disparagement clause, a parent who might otherwise say disparaging comments may think twice before saying anything about the former spouse in front of their children.

In Utah child custody cases, disparagement is a serious issue, and it could amount to custodial interference. When one spouse continuously and aggressively talks badly about the other spouse in front of the children, it can create distrust between the parents and children. These types of situations make it nearly impossible to co-parent effectively. They can also cause emotional and psychological harm to the child. In these types of situations, a non-disparagement clause can also protect parental alienation. One parent tries to isolate the other parents and force the children to take sides between their parents.


Enforcing a Non-Disparagement Clause

When a non-disparagement clause has been properly written and included in a legally binding custody agreement, the parents being negatively discussed have the right to enforce the clocks. When one parent breaches the clause, the other parent can go to court and petition the court to enforce the laws. 

It is unlikely that a judge will take away a non-compliant parent’s visitation rights or impose any severe penalties without substantial evidence that the closet has been breached. If your spouse is breaching the non-disparagement clause, it is wise to begin keeping a record and saving any evidence of the breaches. If the child custody case is ongoing and there is evidence of disparagement, the court may decide to grant less time to the parent who is violating the non-disparagement clause.

We look forward to passing down traditions from one generation to the next as we approach the holidays. Our families


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