Hi, Carolyn: My brother and sister-in-law are going through an ugly divorce – with her alleging emotional abuse, him trying to get shared custody of their kids (under 10), his lawyer deposing her family members, her refusing to let him see the kids unless supervised. I’ve been trying to stay out of it, at my father’s request and my brother’s request/demand.
Recently my sister-in-law emailed me and told me her side of the story, the polar opposite of my brother’s version. I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle, but I lean toward hers because I know my brother and his terrible temper. She wants me to talk to her lawyer; I could probably help corroborate his anger-management issues.
I want what’s best for my nieces, and I don’t mind risking my relationship with my brother and mother (parents are divorced); they are both controlling, manipulative, angry people and neither one lives in my town. But I hate the thought of risking my relationship with my dad. We’re very close and live in a small town, and I feel like he would be stuck between me and brother.
Should I talk to the lawyer and, if so, let my father know I’m going to do it beforehand? – Choosing Sides
I wish there were a loophole here, some way to justify your remaining neutral.
But these kids need you more than your father does, and more than you need your father’s approval. Children’s peril trumps adults’ sensitivities, period.
With any degree of involvement you choose, remember: As long as what you report is truthful; complete in the sense that you don’t add or hold back facts toward your preferred outcome; and motivated by truth alone, versus delight at the opportunity to stick it to your “controlling, manipulative, angry” brother – and mother, by association – then you will not be the one responsible for costing him in this divorce. That falls to him for behaving in a way that forced your hand.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.