Children’s Bill of Rights – A Reminder on How to Keep Kids Out of the Middle by Lara R. Badain, ESQ.
Marriage is a contract between adults. When marriage ends, the divorce or separation should also be between the adults. However, the decision to end a marriage can, and usually does, have a significant and long-lasting impact upon the children. Parents have a responsibility to conduct the divorce proceedings in a manner that protects their children as much as possible from their conflict. Hopefully, doing so will help reduce the potential long-term emotional and psychological impacts of divorce.
While many of the following concepts seem obvious, it is important that parents are reminded of their responsibilities to their children. In an effort to assist parents, the courts have created what is known as “The Children’s Bill of Rights,” which is often included in its entirety in the body of a separation or custody agreement or is set forth in the court’s orders.
This Children’s Bill of Rights reminds parents just how important it is to shield their children from as much of the turmoil of divorce as possible. No matter how cautious parents are, however, children will inevitably feel the effects of the termination of the marriage. The goal is to be mindful of the children’s feelings and think before acting in a way that causes them even more distress.
Children’s Bill of Rights
1. The right not to be asked to choose sides between his/her parents.
2. The right not to be told the details of legal proceedings going on between his/her parents.
3. The right not to be told bad things about the other parent’s personality or character.
4. The right to privacy when talking to either parent on the telephone.
5. The right not to be cross-examined by one parent after spending time with the other parent.
6. The right not to be asked to be a messenger from one parent to the other.
7. The right not to be asked by one parent to tell the other parent untruths.
8. The right not to be used as a confidant regarding legal proceedings between the parents.
9. The right to express feelings, whatever those feelings may be.
10. The right to choose not to express certain feelings.
11. The right to be protected from parental warfare.
12. The right not to be made to feel guilty for loving both parents.
13. The right to be treated respectfully by each parent.
14. The right not to be demeaned by either parent by word or deed.
15. The right to be safe from physical harm.
This article originally appeared in the August 2014 back issue of StepMom Magazine.