Custody Disputes – Children’s Bill Of Rights

In our practice, we repeatedly see divorcing parents take extremely destructive, hurtful and even downright stupid actions in custody/visitation disputes.

These parents, who often are hell bent on “getting even” with their spouse, sometimes do and say the most outrageous things in the name of revenge, and confuse and emotionally damage their children in the process.

Divorce is certainly hard enough on adults. For children, it can be devastating. Their worlds are turned upside down by the breakdown of their household. This upheaval can be made many times worse by the venomous animosity and destructive actions they sometimes witness by their parents.

We frequently consult with adults who vividly remember how a divorcing parent behaved during a divorce case when that adult was a child.

Some of these adults have been psychologically traumatized for a lifetime by what they saw or heard. They often tell us that they wish their parents had just “settled it” like adults, and lament how their parents acted like spoiled children themselves, while ignoring the fact that everything said and done during this difficult time had a magnified impact on them as youngsters.

In the spirit of reminding those involved in divorce disputes involving children that it is their responsibility to act like mature, responsible adults to protect the most vulnerable parties to a divorce litigation —- their precious children —–, we reprint here a copy of the “Children’s Bill of Rights”, which is not a legal doctrine or enforceable set of rules, but a common sense reminder of what a parent should be doing vis-a-vis a child when custody & visitation disputes arise.

Children’s Bill of Rights

We the children of the divorcing parents, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish these Bill Of Rights for all children.

The right not to be asked to “choose sides” or be put in a situation where I would have to take sides between my parents.

The right to be treated as a person and not as a pawn, possession or a negotiating chip.

The right to freely and privately communicate with both parents.

The right not to be asked questions by one parent about the other.

The right not to be a messenger.

The right to express my feelings.

The right to adequate visitation with the non-custodial parent which will best serve my needs and wishes.

The right to love and have a relationship with both parents without being made to feel guilty.

The right not to hear either parent say anything bad about the other.

The right to the same educational opportunities and economic support that I would have had if my parents did not divorce.

The right to have what is in my best interest protected at all times.

The right to maintain my status as a child and not to take on adult responsibilities for the sake of the parent’s well being.

The right to request my parents seek appropriate emotional and social support when needed.

The right to expect consistent parenting at a time when little in my life seems constant or secure.

The right to expect healthy relationship modeling, despite the recent events.

The right to expect the utmost support when taking the time and steps needed to secure a healthy adjustment to the current situation.

If you are fighting with your spouse about your children, please reread this, and then do it again.

These common sense reminders are too often cast aside during the emotional turmoil involved in divorce cases.

You are the adult. Your children did not ask for a divorce from either parent. Your children will remember and be forever impacted by how you conduct yourself. Keep this in mind when you are dealing with your spouse on child related issues.