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Posted on September 8th 2014 in Family Law

Breaking Bad: When parents lose their moral compass during a divorce

It isn’t every day that a judge makes a reference to a television show that features meth dealers when giving a decision. But such was the case when Justice Alex Pazaratz issued a warning to parents, comparing unhelpful parenting decisions to AMC’s Breaking Bad. If you’re familiar with the show, you’ll already know that this isn’t exactly a flattering review of parenting.

What prompted this controversial comment? Parents fighting over the custody of their two children.

“The main characters in both of these tragedies end up pretty much the same: Miserable. Financially ruined. And worst of all, hurting the children they claimed they were protecting,” said Justice Alex Pazaratz.

As lawyers who practice multiple methods of family law and as members of an organization committed to a non-combative form of divorce, collaborative law, we know that divorce has the potential to hurt children in ways parents don’t even realize. Unfortunately, a lot of this hurt is entirely unintentional and as Justice Pazaratz says, often a result of parents claiming, both to themselves and to the court, that they are protecting their children.

We’ve written blog posts in the past about ways to protect your children during your divorce and we will likely write more because this is a common challenge. Despite there being many ways you can make a divorce as easy as possible on your children, there are a few points that are always in the conversation. In this Breaking Bad themed court decision, we find some of these points.



Approaching any legal method with maturity is a productive start. Many people begin with the motivation of revenge and it sets the tone for a combative process. If you’re able to work together and remove the “fighting” tone, it becomes easier to set your family up for a healthier future. Finding a way to communicate and work together is ideally a part of any of the legal methods we practice because even though a divorce proceeding may be over, when there are children involved, you and your former spouse will always have some interaction. If this interaction can be mature, all the better.

As Justice Alex Pazaratz said, “Stop acting like you hate your ex more than you love your children.”


Permission to love

Divorce can pull the rug out from under a child. What they thought was secure is now filled with uncertainty. Making sure that you demonstrate security to your children is incredibly important for their ability to cope with a divorce. Children easily feel caught in the middle and parent behaviour is often the reason for this. A positive relationship with both parents and feeling like they have permission to do so without consequences, like being made to feel like they have betrayed one parent, is essential.

“Will these parents sign up for the permanent cast of Breaking Bad Parents? Will they become regulars in our family court building, recognizable by face and disposition? Or will they come to their senses; salvage their lives, dignity (and finances); and give their children the truly priceless gifts of maturity and permission to love?” says Justice Alex Pazaratz.


If you’re looking for a Toronto family law firm that approaches separation with family as the first priority, please get in touch with us. We’re happy to discuss all of your options and help you to choose the approach that will be the best for your family.