Our Orange County child custody law firm knows that divorcing parents can behave in ways that can even be considered cruel to the children. It’s not that they intend to hurt their children in any way — it’s just that the toxic emotions between the two spouses can overwhelm their good sense and judgment regarding how the children are being cared for. Parents have been known to try to bribe their children with financial gifts just prior to the custody hearing so the children will tell the judge they want to live with that parent.

Some parents even go so far as to buy their children a much-desired pet, and then threaten to withhold the pet should the children choose to live with the other parent. Custody battles can truly turn into all-out war between spouses with the children being caught squarely in the middle. Parents may tell their children they will give them their own room if they choose to live with them or that they will buy them an expensive gift they have been wanting. Parents who bribe the children to get them to say what they want them to say during a custody hearing may even believe they are doing what is in the best interests of their children.

Parents must realize that putting the children in the middle of such an emotional tug-of-war can never be in their best interests. Even though you think you are doing what’s best for your children, ask yourself if this is truly the case when you are offering them bribes in order to tell the judge they want to live with you. Older children are particularly susceptible to bribes such as the promise of a car when they get their license. Not only are these types of bribes harmful to the relationship of the parent doing the bribing, it can also be considered parental alienation toward the other parent. This type of parental alienation can cause the children to have harsh — and potentially unrealistic — feelings toward the other parent and is never considered acceptable behavior during a custody dispute.

If you are engaged in an ugly custody dispute, first take a step back and ask yourself if what you are doing is truly in the best interests of your children. Next, contact an attorney who is well versed in California child custody cases.