Parents should be far more mindful of their children's wellbeing during the course of a divorce.  EU law enshrines the right of a child to have a good relationship and direct contact with BOTH parents.  Behaviour that has a detrimental effect on the relationship between a parent and their child due to insulting and offensive comments made about a child's parent within their hearing can be penalised in the courts.

In a recent case heard in a civil tribunal in Rome a mother who persisted in speaking about the child's father in derogatory terms within the child's hearing was fined the sum of €30,000.  The court found that she had failed to ensure that the father and son had a healthy and proper relationship; she was told she had to change her ways if she wanted to keep the custody of her child.

The tribunal held that her repeated criticism of her ex-husband in front of her son was effectively damaging the mental health of her child and therefore her actions amounted to criminal behaviour.  The woman was given a robust warning that if she chose to continue her destructive behaviour she would risk "modifications of the conditions of custody".

There is a growing concern that warring parents who make their acrimonious relationship apparent to their young children by deriding their ex-partner are causing them very real harm.  The courts are increasingly aware that parents who make disparaging and insulting remarks about their former partner in front of their children have to be reprimanded by the courts in order to protect the children of a broken relationship.

Giambrone's family lawyers recommend a code of conduct to divorcing parents with children in an attempt to limit the toxic effect of a marriage break-up on the children and also on the separating parties.

Parents are advised to follow these guidelines:

  1. Always make it clear to the children that the problem lies between the adults and has nothing to do with their behaviour.
  2. Ensure that the children will always be able to make contact the absent parent (within sensible reason) at any time without fear of either parent causing any difficulties before, during or after a visit or telephone call.
  3. Parents should make every effort to be civil and reasonable to each other, especially when the children are present.
  4. That any difficulties or issues are discussed and resolved without the possibility of the children overhearing any heated discussions.
  5. That the grandparents of either parent are referred to respectfully.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.