Did you happen to catch this story on the Today show earlier this week?
I was appalled to hear the story of an obviously bitter ex-husband and father of two, who created a blog called “ThePsychExWife.com”. This gentleman (and I use the term lightly) characterized his musings as “the true account of a marriage, divorce and subsequent (child) custody fight between a loving man, his terroristic ex-wife who we suspect suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder…”. He went on to describe his ex-wife, the mother of his children, as “…Jabba the Hut with less personality”. He continued to detail every perceived character flaw and parental misstep of his ex-wife.
At a recent court hearing in the couple’s ongoing and highly contentious child custody case, the judge ordered that the website be taken down and for the father to stop bad mouthing the mother in public. Yet, the judge left the existing shared custody arrangement in place. Quite an interesting ruling, to say the least.
One of our great privileges in the United States is that of freedom of speech. The constitution guarantees us that right. I do believe that if ex-husband appeals the judge’s decision regarding removal of the blog, the decision will be overturned. It must be to protect his right to free speech. However, I do believe many people today have forgotten a basic lesson we all learned as children – simply because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Can’t we all hear our parents saying “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?”! That same principle applies here. Simply because ex-husband has the constitutional right to freedom of speech, which includes bad mouthing his ex-wife, it doesn’t mean he should. In all child custody cases, the main focus must be on the best interests of the children. Ex-wife has publicly stated that her ten and twelve year old sons know of the blog and have asked their father to stop writing it. I don’t know of any family law judge, commissioner or child custody evaluator who would look favorably upon such a blog. In fact, in my experience, many judges might alter custody arrangements given such behavior. Ex-husband can say what he wishes, but he must also accept the consequences. One parent publicly bashing the other is simply not in the best interests of the children. Period. Even if the allegations are true. Yes, even if.
Having practiced family law for nearly thirty years, I can understand the appeal a blog such as this might have for those who have been involved in lengthy and contentious child custody battles. It is my job to let my clients know that negative public rantings regarding their child’s other parent will only impact negatively upon blogger, and may affect the amount of custodial time with their children. Mr. Blogger may well find he ultimately wins the battle of the blog, but loses the custodial war.