Dirty Tricks in Texas Divorce: Using Children as Weapons

In the realm of Texas divorce proceedings, it’s disheartening to witness parents resorting to using their own children as weapons against their ex-spouses. This destructive behavior can manifest in various ways, and in this article, we will explore some of these dirty tactics. Additionally, we’ll discuss the steps that can be taken if you find yourself dealing with a former spouse employing these harmful strategies.

Withholding Your Children

During divorce proceedings in Texas, emotions can often cloud judgment, leading parents to engage in vindictive actions out of anger or fear. One common manifestation of this behavior is when parents withhold their children from the other parent without considering their children’s best interests.

The excuse often given for this is the fear that the other parent may not return the children. Ironically, this behavior mimics the very actions they fear from the other parent.

Repercussions for Withholding Children: Courts strongly disapprove of such actions and may result in contempt charges if there is a court order in place. Violating standing orders in counties that have them or existing temporary orders can also lead to legal consequences.

Visitation Contingent on Paying Support

Many people mistakenly believe that visitation rights are contingent on the payment of child support. Prior to court orders, parents may decide to use this misconception as an excuse to withhold children from the other parent. However, in Texas divorce proceedings, courts do not accept lack of support as a valid reason for withholding children.

– Clarification in Court Orders: Once court orders are in place, the separation between support and visitation becomes evident. The Texas Family Code explicitly states that failure to pay child support does not justify denying access to the child. Judges are not allowed to order support but deny access unless there are extreme circumstances, such as child endangerment.

Running Away with the Children

Parents absconding with their children before or after divorce paperwork is filed can lead to significant legal consequences. There are distinct scenarios:

Before Paperwork is Filed with the Court

Before divorce paperwork is initiated, parents can freely relocate with their children if there are no court orders in place. This can create immense challenges for the other parent.

Taking Legal Action: Filing for divorce and obtaining court orders is crucial to regain custody rights. Delays may force the other parent to fight for custody in the new location, potentially in another state or country.

After Paperwork is Filed with the Court

Running away with children during an ongoing divorce or custody dispute is ill-advised, as it can lead to:

Restrictions on Relocation: Existing court orders may prevent the relocation of the child without permission.

Alteration of Custody: Ignoring the ongoing case may result in the other parent being awarded primary custody and severely limiting your access to the child.

Engaging in Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is a harmful tactic in Texas divorce proceedings where one parent intentionally tries to alienate the children from the other parent. This can take various forms, including:

– Interference with Visitation: Preventing the other parent from seeing the children.
– Intercepting Communication: Blocking phone calls or mail from the other parent.
– Negative Influence: Continuously speaking negatively about the other parent to the children.
– Instilling Fear: Creating fear in the child regarding the other parent.
– Manipulative Behavior: Reacting with hurt or betrayal when the child wants to see the other parent.

Crying Wolf Regarding Family Violence

While domestic violence is a real issue in divorce cases, it can sometimes be weaponized as a tactic. Victims of domestic violence in Texas can seek quick relief from a judge through protective orders. However, these laws can also be used against innocent parties, creating potentially damaging consequences.

– Ex Parte Orders: Victims can have private meetings with a judge (ex parte) and, if the judge believes their story, gain emergency custody of the children.
– Potential Misuse: Misuse of these laws can lead to false accusations and legal complications.

Coaching the Children to Lie

Some parents resort to coaching or prepping their children to lie during divorce proceedings. This manipulation is taken seriously by the courts and can lead to severe consequences.

– Detection: Courts often rely on experts, such as psychologists and amicus attorneys, to identify and address parental coaching.
– Weight of Child Testimony: Rehearsed child testimony generally carries little weight in court, and judges may discount it if it appears coached.


Divorce can be an emotionally charged time, and children often bear the brunt of their parents’ conflicts. While these dirty tactics may arise, it’s essential to remember that the best interests of the children should always be the top priority. Seeking legal counsel and maintaining a focus on what is right for the children can help navigate the complexities of Texas divorce proceedings while protecting everyone involved.


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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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