D.W. v. M.W. – “Little League Parent Syndrome”

Tantrums, yelling, and general bad behavior is the sort of conduct that a parent will expect to see from time to time from young children. Unfortunately, this type of behavior is not always limited to children, and can sometimes even be seen in parents. After a divorce or custody case has concluded, parents have to continue to try to work together for years. If one parent is behaving especially outrageously, this cooperation could be made exceedingly difficult.

In a case called D.M. v. M.W., a New Jersey trial court had to address an issue involving a father who was acting badly at the parties’ son’s little league game. After a divorce, the mother had been granted custody of the child. The court order provided that the father was allowed to attend the son’s sporting events, including little league games. While attending the games, the father displayed terrible behavior, including yelling at the coaches and other players. The mother then filed a motion with the court asking to modify the previous court order so that the father would no longer be permitted to attend the sporting events for the child.

The trial judge noted that if a parent makes “inappropriate public criticism and disparagement of coach decisions,” that parent’s right to continue to attend the child’s sporting events could be put in jeopardy. The judge emphasized that the parental behavior at the games should reflect the missions of little league, which include “good citizenship, sportsmanship, and maturity of character.”  This maturity should include appropriate attitudes about being a good winner and a good loser. The judge suggested certain behavior guidelines that parents should adhere to, including:

  • Adhere to league conduct and behavior rules
  • Refrain from publicly harass or demean any child
  • Refrain from publicly harassing or demeaning any parent or spectator;
  • Behaving in a manner that upholds the dignity of the event.

The trial court ultimately sent the parties away and gave the father another chance to adjust his behavior. Failure to adhere to the rules of good conduct and behavior could result in the father losing the right to attend little league games in the future.

If the other parent in your case displays inappropriate and childish behavior, you need an to help you. We have helped many clients deal with a difficult parent on the other side. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 to talk about your children and your case.

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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