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What can you do if your co-parent is harassing you?

All too often, the anger and bitterness that arise from divorce (and perhaps from actions that led to the divorce) can make communicating constructively with a co-parent seemingly impossible. Unfortunately, some co-parents actually harass their former spouses. It's important to understand when you're being harassed -- particularly when it impacts your children.

It's essential to let your attorney know if your co-parent is harassing you with endless texts or phone calls or if he or she is speaking negatively about you or spreading rumors behind your back or on social media. No one should criticize or berate a co-parent in front of their children.

It's helpful to keep and provide your attorney with documentation of the harassment -- whether it's voicemail messages, texts or social media posts. If a custody arrangement is still being determined, evidence of harassment could help your case.

You should also address the harassment with any therapists with whom you and your children are working. They can help you and your kids deal with the stress that it's no doubt causing.

A key to stopping direct harassment is to place limits and boundaries on communication with your co-parent. It's generally best in these situations not to communicate in person or by phone unless necessary. There are co-parenting apps that allow parents to communicate about their kids on a neutral, private platform. Because there's a record of all communications on these platforms, if one parent engages in harassment, it's documented.

If your co-parent leaves negative, harassing messages, it's essential that you don't respond in kind. That's easier said than done, but it will only escalate the situation and make it more difficult to make the case that you're the victim. The same is true if your co-parent is using social media to attack you. Don't respond. It may be best to block your co-parent and perhaps stay off social media completely for a time.

Keep your Arizona family law attorney informed so that he or she can advise you on when and if it may be time for a restraining order or law enforcement intervention. Your attorney can also help you if you need to work out a parenting plan that minimizes your contact with your co-parent. Remember that it's your children's well-being that should be at the forefront of all of your decisions.

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