Parents often ask how much information about their court case they can share with their children, especially older children. There is no hard-and-fast rule to this question, and it still plagues the court today, especially in a world where people love to share their thoughts, ideas, concerns and frustrations. The concern is oversharing, putting adult concerns and ideas into the mind of a child, especially one that does not understand what is happening.
It is one thing to have a close relationship with your child and to share your experiences in life with them. However, sharing with your child about your court case should not be on that list. This is not to say that if your child has questions that you ignore them, but be careful. Talking about adult situations to a child can be very confusing. It can cause them to grow up too fast. Even if your child is a teenager, be cautious. Most of the time, the court will advise not to speak to the child about the proceedings, except in general terms. They are not a party, and they should not know how much child support is being asked for or if the parties are fighting for more time “just to lessen support.” Showing them the court paperwork or income information is not something that the child needs to worry about.
There is an additional element to sharing that has been more prevalent in recent years, and that is sharing on social media. It is understandable to share and sharing with other adults is fine, but be careful what is posted on social media. Not only are they written statements that can be admissible in court, but your children can see it also. Children are more tech savvy than most adults, so they can find it, especially if they are teenagers and have friends on social media.
It is important to know that before you share any details about court with your child, look at your court paperwork or talk to your attorney. There is a chance that the court has said not to discuss these matters with the child. This could cost you in the long run if you do not follow what is said. Even if there is nothing in the paperwork, always remember that this is your child, not your friend, so be cautious about what you share and what you show. There is no reason to show your child paperwork or income statements. Those are things that a child should not worry about.
This is not to say that when a child is older, and they are going through court of their own, that you cannot talk to them more openly about your experience. That is fine, but remember each case is different. Sharing information with a child about court is tricky, and ultimately the parent needs to decide what is appropriate for their child. Each case, each child, and each person is different, so keep that in mind when thinking about sharing.