These days, it seems like no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, there will always be someone who’s a little more extreme than you are. It’s not at all uncommon for some of these extremists to end up on the news after they’ve been arrested. With extremist ideology becoming more and more common in the present day, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do to prevent your extremist ex from indoctrinating your child. Though everyone has a right to have their opinion and express it, when it comes to beliefs that may be dangerous, or expressed violently, do you have a right to shelter your child from them? The answer is more complicated than you might think.
What’s in the Decree?
If you have concerns about your ex, and what they’re teaching your child, the first thing you’ll need to do is review your divorce decree. This is most commonly seen with religion: your decree may contain a provision dictating which religion their child will be raised in, who will baptize the children, and where and when the child will attend church. Most couples do not have decrees that bar parents from discussing political ideology, or conspiracy theories, with the children. However, if this is a concern, you certainly can have a provision such as the aforementioned, so long as both parties agree to it.
When the Decree Doesn’t Say
If your decree does not specify whether or not your ex can share political beliefs, or conspiracy theories, or extremist propaganda, with the children, the court will likely look at the best interests of the children involved. When we say “best interests,” we mean that, in most cases, it’s in a child’s best interests to have a relationship with both parents—provided that each parent can physically and emotionally care for the child’s needs. Furthermore, parents are supposed to provide a stable environment for the child to grow up in. So, if your ex is unable to care for the child because they’re always at political gatherings, you may be able to have custody reduced based on this. Aside from extreme cases, if your child’s physical needs are being met, it may be difficult to prove that your child has been mentally or emotionally harmed by your ex’s extremist beliefs.
Here’s What Your Ex Can Do
Your ex has the right to subscribe to any ideology they choose, and this does include extremist groups. In most cases, your ex will still be able to have some level custody of your children even if they are a member of an extremist group. This is especially true if the child isn’t exposed to the extremist group in any way. Your ex also has the right to discuss their ideas and thoughts with the children as they see fit, so long as these ideas aren’t actively harming the child. The child agreeing with the parent’s ideas isn’t necessarily proof that the child has been harmed. Your ex can also listen to podcasts, news stations, and other media that supports their ideology, in front of the children, assuming the children are not harmed by it. Parents should be aware of the age and maturity of their children when exposing children to this kind of content. For example, a ten year-old child should not be exposed to adult material with adult themes or hate speech. This kind of exposure will not be looked upon as being in the best interest of the child.
When Does It Affect the Child?
It may be difficult for a parent to prove that their child has been harmed by an ex’s indoctrination outside of extreme events. For example, if your child committed an act of violence, or vandalism, you may be able to use that to help prove that your child has been harmed by your ex’s political beliefs. Other evidence may include the child failing, or missing school, due to attending events, the child’s needs being neglected, a sharp decline in the child’s mental health, the child becoming alienated from the other parent. When it comes to alienation, your ex is allowed to express a differing opinion on ideological beliefs. However, they must tread lightly as they should not disparage you in front of the children.
Protecting Your Children
If you have concerns about custody and parent-time during your divorce, CoilLaw is here for you. Our experienced family law attorneys have helped many parents protect their rights and their family. It’s not uncommon for parents to forgo fighting for custody with the intention of going back and trying to get a more ideal arrangement once they have more time and better finances to fight. However, judges do not like to change custody orders too much. If you have concerns about your rights as a parent, contact CoilLaw today for an initial consultation.