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Newest Member: 39Robbo

Divorce/Separation :
Disparagement clause

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 Sally24 (original poster new member #70794) posted at 6:03 PM on Monday, December 20th, 2021

WH and I got legally separated at the end of July. We've separated everything and I am living in a new place.

We told the children (both 14 at the time) that their dad and I had tried really hard to make the marriage work but that at that point it was best for the family that dad and I separate.

No mention of cheating. The children were completely blindsided, didn't have a clue about any troubles we were having.

When WH and I were discussing what to tell the children, he and 4 therapists (1 for each family member) convinced me not to mention the cheating and say the above. I also made it clear that if the children asked me why, I would tell the truth. I'm not surprised that they didn't ask why at the time.

Dd and I were painting our nails about a month ago and asked why we got divorced. (They are 15 now). My heart lurched and fell. I thought maybe they'd ask in a few years, if ever, not a few short months. I sort of asked her if she was sure she wanted to know, once she knew, she couldn't un-know. I truly believe she was asking innocently, not confirming any suspicions. Then I told her Dad cheated on me. She asked if I found out in a good way, and I said there is no good way. She sat with that for a bit, then said she was sorry and gave me a hug.

A few days later (in the vein of avoiding hard conversations) I told ds what his sister asked and asked him if he wanted to know. He said sure. I told him only that Dad cheated on me. Ds didn't ask anything.

I didn't tell wh any of this until this past Friday night. First, I didn't see any need to, second, I would prefer to avoid hard conversations.

Basically, ds asked me to tell his dad that dd and ds knew. I email wh and told him bare bones what happened.

Wh was angry and emailed me back many times in anger that night and into the next morning. Then, yesterday afternoon, he emails another reply saying that I violated the (standard) disparagement clause in our separation agreement.

What should I have done when my dd asked me why?

Never let your fear decide your fate

It's exactly the same only completely different.

posts: 23   ·   registered: Jun. 18th, 2019
id 8705170
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fareast ( Guide #61555) posted at 7:58 PM on Monday, December 20th, 2021

If you simply explained the barebones of his infidelity, honestly and succinctly, with no derogatory remarks, you did the right thing. You did not disparage him. Your children deserve the truth. He is angry and lashing out because his children now see him in a whole new light. Actions have consequences.

Never bother with things in your rearview mirror. Your best days are on the road in front of you.

posts: 2948   ·   registered: Nov. 24th, 2017
id 8705188
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ArkLaMiss ( member #14918) posted at 12:29 AM on Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

You ABSOLUTELY did the right thing telling them. Had you lied, they would have felt betrayed upon finding out down the road. It's not YOUR job tokeep his dirty secret(s). Maybe he should think twice before he makes destructive decisions, especially when others are involved!

Never feel bad for telling your story! It's your story to tell!

Just HOW stupid do you think I am, exactly?

posts: 1723   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2007
id 8705229
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k8la ( member #38408) posted at 11:57 AM on Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

I would simply state that while you will never speak of him in a slighting or disrespectful way, you will not lie for him and your children asked a direct question.

posts: 1462   ·   registered: Feb. 9th, 2013
id 8705271
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WalkingHome ( member #72857) posted at 5:59 PM on Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

Truth is an affirmative defense to all things he is accusing you of.


Tell him that you refuse to lie and that his desire to lie helped end the marriage. It's wrong to lie and you will not raise your children to be liars like their dishonest cheating biological father.

posts: 230   ·   registered: Feb. 19th, 2020   ·   location: USA
id 8705313
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barcher144 ( member #54935) posted at 6:41 PM on Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

You did not disparage him.

I think this is not so clearcut as you are making it out to be. Calling someone a liar is disparaging them, correct, even if they are guilty of telling lies, right?

Legally speaking (in the USA, at least), you would not guilty of "defamation" because you are legally allowed to tell the truth. But defamation is very different from disparagement.

This is the question that I always ask in situations like this: Did telling the kids the truth help them? Or did it hurt them?

For example, my xWW has told my daughters that I have raped her. Even if that was true, was it appropriate for her to tell my 13 to 15 year old daughters that I did that? I think that's a situation where a truth-but-not-full-truth statement is better, such as: Your dad did something really bad so he's going to prison for a long time. You can always tell them later...

For Sally24, I would have said "Look, your Dad and I tried our hardest to keep our marriage together and it didn't work out. We're both going to do our best to take care of you no matter what." But, you can't take it back and you'll just have to deal with that going forward. (and, Sally24, I am not judging you: I told my kids too. I wish that I hadn't, though).

Your children deserve the truth.

I really disagree with this. This guy's affair destroyed their family and I think that it's best for the kids to keep them away from all of the dirty laundry of a failed marriage.

Your children deserve to stay out of the mess that is their parents' failed marriage. They deserve parents who do everything they possibly can to give their kids as normal of a life as possible. That's what kids deserve.

Me: BH, age 48
Her: WS, age 45 (multiple EAs and PAs)
D-Day: August 30, 2016

Diagnosed with depression in December 2016, which was primarily caused by my xWW's affair and associated emotional abuse.

posts: 5155   ·   registered: Aug. 31st, 2016
id 8705325
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Twicecrushed ( member #50258) posted at 8:13 PM on Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

I went through this exact same thing with my XWW. She told DDs that we just didn't love each other the way married couples should. I told her I will tell them the truth should they ever ask when they got older. Well, like your DD, mine asked and I told them the truth. I spared them the details of course, but let them know that their mother cheated on all 3 of us. Nothing more, nothing less. OF course XWW lost her mind and I simply explained it to her. The TRUTH can never be disparaging! If she didn't want our girls to know what she did, then she shouldn't have had 2 LTA's. The same thing applies to your XWH. Ignore your XWH, he doesn't deserve a response! As you will read here many times, his relationship with his kids is HIS responsibility. Just be the best mom you can be and make sure you are your kids rock.

Me-BH 50
The Princess-WW 47
Married 23 years
2 DDs 14 and 11
1st DDday June 1998 - 2.5 year PA
2nd DDay April 2015 - 3 month PA
False R for 13 months the A never ended, just deep underground.
Divorced 8-31-2017

posts: 193   ·   registered: Nov. 6th, 2015   ·   location: Louisiana
id 8705339
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src9043 ( member #75367) posted at 12:38 AM on Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

I waited thirty-six years to tell my son. I only did it because my ex-WW was going around saying disparaging things about me. I was so nice and considerate to her all these years and all I got was a kick in the teeth. Fuck your low-life STBXWH. The POS shouldn't have cheated. Cheaters don't deserve a pass. That is what I learned.

[This message edited by src9043 at 12:42 AM, Thursday, December 23rd]

posts: 500   ·   registered: Sep. 7th, 2020
id 8705559
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emergent8 ( member #58189) posted at 4:35 AM on Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

**NOT intended as legal advice** but the OP should seek legal advice for what appears to be a legal question. Truth is a full defence to defamation but that is not necessarily the case for breach of a disparagement clause.

None of us have read the clause. None of us know what she agreed to.

Me: BS, Him: WS. Mid-late 30s.
Together 15 years, married 6 (11 m at D-Day).
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
5 years (and two toddlers) into R. Happy.

posts: 744   ·   registered: Apr. 7th, 2017
id 8705590
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HFSSC ( member #33338) posted at 7:23 PM on Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

Calling someone a liar is disparaging them, correct, even if they are guilty of telling lies, right?

I missed the part where she called him a liar.

There's a whole lot of difference between "your father had an affair/cheated/had a girlfriend" versus "Your father is a cheating asshole." If someone doesn't want to be "disparaged" then they should choose their actions carefully.

I made it clear to JM that I wasn't going to lie to our kids. I didn't really want them to know what happened, but if they asked I was not going to lie. When they did ask, I wasn't hateful, didn't express any judgment or characterizing his actions negatively. Because we've R'ed, our sons got to see their dad own up to his actions, make amends to me and to them, and they both love and respect him. My X-Shit (who is ds30's biological father) chose to just abandon us and raise the OW's kid. I never told the whole history to ds until he was 20 and asked to connect with X-Shit. DS met the Y chromosome, wifetress and his step sister, along with a bunch of extended family in 2011. DS experienced enough of X-Shit's BS to form his own opinion and has never needed any disparagement from me to have a realistic opinion.

I realize that was probably a T/J, but apparently I still have some feelings I might need to process, lol.

TL;DR

I don't believe that telling the truth about someone who did something wrong is necessarily disparagement. And it sounds to me like Sally24 made it clear to her WH that she would tell the truth if asked directly.

Me, 54
Him, 45 (JMSSC)
Married 24 years. Reconciled.

posts: 4658   ·   registered: Sep. 12th, 2011   ·   location: South Carolina
id 8705650
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katmandude54 ( member #35992) posted at 8:03 PM on Friday, December 24th, 2021

DISPARGEMENT: 1 : the publication of false and injurious statements that are derogatory of another's property, business, or product. — called also business disparagement, commercial disparagement, disparagement of property, slander of goods, trade libel. 2 : slander of title.

or

What is a non-disparagement clause? A non-disparagement clause in a custody order prohibits parents — and often their extended family members — from speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the children.


You did NONE of these. Disparagement means talking negative. If all you did was explain his activity that lead to the separation then you stated facts, not negativity. HE is the one who disparaged ... the marriage.

HE can complain but no judge will hold this to be disparagement, IMHO

If at first you don't succeed, you're probably screwed.

posts: 161   ·   registered: Jul. 1st, 2012   ·   location: FLORIDA
id 8705910
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Linus ( member #79614) posted at 8:38 PM on Friday, December 24th, 2021

I would not worry about legal ramifications. Your XH would be drawing attention to his cheating if he raised a stink. I imagine attention on this is the last thing he wants.

Seems there are two camps on this telling the kids issue.

One is not to, as the information may hurt them, damage them.

The other is that telling, without editorializing, prevents them from erroneously taking responsibility and avoids confusing them as to why what they thought was stable has dissolved.

Folks choose one path or the other, and , often, vociferously defend their choice and disparage the other choice.

BS parents are put in a very awkward position, often during a time they are going through a terrible trauma. Far be it from me to criticize either choice.

Me, I told them. My kids would have figured it out regardless and they needed a heads up on the character of th he man my XW was bringing into their lives( she instantly moved him in to her new place. Nice, eh?).

posts: 146   ·   registered: Nov. 21st, 2021   ·   location: Connecticut
id 8705913
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