Coparent Academy Podcast

Secret Wedding?

May 16, 2022 Linda VanValkenburg and Ron Gore
Coparent Academy Podcast
Secret Wedding?
Show Notes Transcript

So many things can go wrong when you try to keep your wedding  plans secret from your coparent.  Find out why that's a problem both the parent and the child .  

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Ron Gore:

So there's a situation, Linda, they're going to the chapel, they're going to get married. But should they tell anybody?

Linda VanValkenburg:

Well, if they don't someone else will. It will be on Facebook.

Ron Gore:

That's right. So here's a Reddit post where the person is asking, should they let their ex know they're getting married. And we see this all the time, stealth marriages.

Linda VanValkenburg:

And it just causes is such a problem. You would think it wouldn't but it does!

Ron Gore:

It's just a big trust fail. Such a big change in circumstances. So from the...

Linda VanValkenburg:

and once again, it affects children.

Ron Gore:

How many times have you seen this, where the child is the ring bearer or flower girl in the wedding, and the other parent never knew that a wedding was occurring? They only hear about it later.

Linda VanValkenburg:

And of course, the parent getting married doesn't tell the child when it's happening. They may try on clothes or whatever for it, but they never know when because then they'll blow it and tell the other person. The typical, I'm sure you've heard this, the typical excuse for that is, I didn't want them to ruin the wedding. Yeah, keep the kids from coming. So that kid couldn't be the flower girl or whatever, you know, oh, my goodness.

Ron Gore:

So right. So let's back that up a little bit. If you're in a situation in which you are going to get married, and you haven't told the other parent, because of the fear that the other parent is going to ruin it somehow, clearly, there's a baseline trust issue going on? And if you're looking to make that situation better, you're not going to make it better by compounding the level of mistrust by getting married without telling anybody. What would you say to the parent? And of course, this depends also on how old the child is? Because a three year old could participate in a wedding and nobody would ever know. But a 14 year old is going to be kind of interested in what's happening. So what would you say to the parent who's trying to decide whether or not they should tell their coparent they're getting married?

Linda VanValkenburg:

Well, one way or another, I think it has to be coming from the person who's getting married. And I think it needs to be directly to the coparent. Like anything else, that's a huge deal regarding the child that you share. If you do indeed have very clear reasons why you don't want to divulge the time or place, then, okay, maybe that's a valid problem, you know, because I have really heard of people showing up there or people...

Ron Gore:

...domestic violence issues...

Linda VanValkenburg:

keeping the child from being there. But at least let them know that you are getting married.

Ron Gore:

And perhaps, to whom,

Linda VanValkenburg:

yes, that would be nice, too.

Ron Gore:

Because, you know, you have a right to know who's gonna be in the house with your child for extended periods of time. And most custody orders will have a provision that says something like that. And most of our joint custody plans are going to have provisions that requires the coparent to make sure that the newly married partner-- the step parent is aware of what the rules are, even though they're not bound by it, they have to be aware of it. And then failing to live up to what's in the joint custody plan is going to be held against the coparent if they're married. So that's just the whole process that needs to be done. Now clearly if the person is a domestic violence threat, or whatever else, but then we're already in a different category of parenting. If they're that much of an actual threat? You know, the idea of telling them directly is so important-- to have parent A telling parent B-- Hey, I'm getting married to stepparent. This idea as we saw in this Reddit post of sort of letting the grapevine know, you know, why I told his mom or I told his sister, I'm sure it got back to him. That's not okay.

Linda VanValkenburg:

Or when you do post the most interesting pictures on Facebook for the world to see, including your children. It's yeah, it can hopefully embarrass you someday if it doesn't embarrass the child. You know, it's ridiculous the things kids tell me they've seen on Facebook and is sometimes you know, I think we we lose sight sometimes that a lot of great marriages are after there's an older child and adolescent child or maybe someone who's aged out of the court system with custody and visitation. But that older child may be linked in with somebody on Facebook that would see it. And then they would tell the the younger sibling and that happens

Ron Gore:

And I have something a little controversial to say. If a lot. you're the type of person who was going to go through all the machinations of hiding your wedding and not telling your coparent and trying to make everybody keep it a secret, you're the kind of person who has friends on social media who can't stand you... and who know who your coparent is! Because how many times have you found out from someone in the session that they learned something from someone who was stealth monitoring, sending them information on Facebook? There's always someone like that. So don't try to convince yourself that you can hide it on social media, that your group of friends won't tell anybody, because there's someone within your circle, who doesn't like the way you operate, and --

Linda VanValkenburg:

It's just one degree of separation anymore with...

Ron Gore:

So that's always gonna happen. All right. Now, I would say, you know, I'm looking at this post, and she does reference that she had a domestic violence protective order against him for two years. And she let it expire, because he got a new girlfriend and things seem to have calmed down, and that girlfriend is no longer in the picture. So, you know, maybe, that maybe there is an issue, possibly, but it's not going to get any better by hiding from him the wedding. And if I were, I don't know, if I'm playing that out in my head, and if I'm afraid of what, in this case, his reaction is going to be, I think I want to isolate when he's gonna find out, I would rather know he's finding out now... the wedding is now let me be on my guard now about what his reaction is going to be now, instead of it coming out of the blue.

Linda VanValkenburg:

I do see people in that kind of circumstance that do have to plan ahead, when to have a motion filed or when to have it delivered, have the person served, you know, there're things like that that do have to be planned ahead

Ron Gore:

or tell them in advance like two weeks ahead or three weeks ahead that you're gonna get married, give them a chance to see what his reaction is going to be. And if his reaction is inappropriate, then given the past history of having a two year protective order, you would now have a reasonable basis to go in and seek an emergency protective order that would cover the time period for the wedding. That's a much better plan than thinking he won't find out.

Linda VanValkenburg:

And once again, if you like, let's say he doesn't find out until he reads it on Facebook, or somebody tells him or even the child comes back from the wedding and tells him, that's going to be much bigger repercussion for the child. And the child is going to face a barrage of questions and so forth that, you know, I frequently have suggested to children that they answer that barrage with, I think you really need to talk to my mom or my dad about that, you know, but a lot of children find that difficult-- that boundary difficult to set with their parent. And so they're caught in the crossfire between the two parents again.

Ron Gore:

and also it's short sighted because you're not taking into consideration how the court looks at things, because you always need to be the parent who the court can trust. Now hopefully you have two parents whom the court can trust. But if it's a choice between you and your coparent of which parent the court can look at and say, that person is a reasonable actor, that's a responsible parent, I can count on to handle these situations. If you're hiding the fact that you got married, then I don't think the judge is gonna find you to be a reasonable actor. You're not a trustworthy parent. And you may think that you're gonna come in and say, well, I had a protective order against him for two years, the Judge will say, well, then the proper course of action if he's still acting in that way, is to get another one. It's not to operate under an order and not tell him when you're getting married.

Linda VanValkenburg:

The other thing I've seen so many times--they will plan their wedding on a time that is the other parents time. I never quite understood that because then that sets off a whole barrage of emails back and forth about how they want to switch weekends or whatever. Or they plan a wedding that they want the child to attend, but it's going to be in another state or another country or something where then you've got to get the other parents permission, perhaps, and making it that complicated is really a problem.

Ron Gore:

Well... I think sometimes people want to have their wedding cake and eat it too.

Linda VanValkenburg:

That's good. Yep, you're right.

Ron Gore:

Well, you've got so many people to please, and you've got the--

Linda VanValkenburg:

weddings are complicated anyway,

Ron Gore:

They are! That's why everybody should elope!

Linda VanValkenburg:

Mm hmm.

Ron Gore:

That's the best course of action.

Linda VanValkenburg:

Yeah, that's kind of a thing. At least it was. I don't know if it still is, but there were destination weddings, especially for your second or third or whatever wedding. And they would go do a destination thing, and then come back and have a fun reception for everybody. And that would be easy to plan when the child can be there.

Ron Gore:

Right. So you have your actual ceremony, and then you have a later reception. And, you know, it's funny how many people get married, just going to the courthouse, and getting her done. It's a lot more than I think people think. So I see these, see them, you can tell because when we go to the courthouse here in Tulsa County, to file it's a really interesting situation, because you've got the marriage license part of the desk. It's like the if it's an L, it's like the little part. And then you've got the divorce and protective order filings. That's a long part of the L. And it's just you're seeing the whole situation, occur. And, you know, sometimes you can look over and you can see the people getting their marriage licenses, like they're holding hands are right next to each other, and they're looking...

Linda VanValkenburg:

and they're checking out the people that are in the other side.

Ron Gore:

Sometimes they are. And then sometimes the folks who were in the line, you know, they just came from a temporary order hearing for the divorce are looking at the people getting the marriage licenses. And it's just a really interesting little microcosm. I think that would be that would be an interesting reality show. To see the people come up to the counter, and then to follow each of them out and to get their stories and have them comment on each other's stories, and talk to each other. That'd be really fascinating. So if anyone uses that idea. Come let me know.

Linda VanValkenburg:

Oh, my goodness. Yeah, wow. That is quite a picture of how things really are.

Ron Gore:

Yeah, exactly.