Can you limit what your ex-spouse says about you to your kids? Yes and no.
When crafting a parenting plan in divorce mediation, we generally include a clause stating that neither parent can say negative things about the other in front of the children. These provisions are called non-disparagement clauses and their purpose is to protect the kids from being exposed to and upset by their parents’ anger. The Courts require that child custody arrangements must be in the best interest of the children; and studies have shown that living in conflict has a negative effect on kids.
At Westfield Mediation, LLC, most clients agree to this clause; and the Courts have held that voluntary-agreed-to provisions like this can be enforceable. Still, clients cannot be too restrictive in the kinds of limits that they put on their ex-spouse’s ability to speak about them. For example, the Courts have found that strict rules that prevent parents from posting specific statements on social media about their ex-spouse may not be enforceable. Such prior restraints on speech are not allowed under the Constitution’s First Amendment protections.
In divorce mediation, we work with divorcing parents to create a parenting plan that works for them and keeps the kids’ interests in mind. By including voluntary non-disparagement clauses in our agreements, we remind parents that part of their role as parents is modeling good, civil behavior for their kids and minimizing their exposure to anger and conflict.
For more information about parenting plans and divorce mediation, please contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, M. Ed., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, at Westfield Mediation, LLC.