The Children's Bill of Rights: Designed to Keep Your Kids from Becoming Forgotten Victims of Your Divorce
The weather is getting cooler, your kids are back in school and the holidays – as hard as it is to believe – are right around the corner. That means family law attorneys spend significant amounts of time grappling with issues related to custody, parenting time, educational costs and even trick-or-treating disputes. Parents have rights but, in the heat of battle, some otherwise good parents forget that their children have rights, too, something that any divorce lawyer worth his or her salt will work to keep in the conversation even when things get a little tense or downright ugly. Divorce is never easy for children. However, parents can certainly make it much worse when the children become mere bargaining chips in the larger marital dissolution conflict. More subtle but no less damaging transgressions occur when parents put their kids in the middle by complaining about the other parent to them, running the other parent down, or demanding that the children choose sides. Mental health professionals can often be very helpful in these cases; sometimes, kids simply need a neutral third party with whom to discuss everything that's changing in their lives. Divorce attorneys will also do the best they can to craft a reasonable, pragmatic and workable parenting time framework that will limit the potential for future conflicts. Still, there's no guarantee of good behavior in the long run. The Court cannot police every ill-advised comment or silly curbside outburst. The idea behind the Children's Bill of Rights is not all too different from the theory underlying the original Bill of Rights; rights are harder to ignore when they're written down! Consequently, the Children's Bill of Rights is often incorporated into divorce and post-judgment agreements. Here's sample ‘Children's Bill of Rights' language which you might typically see appended to a court order or marital settlement agreement:
(1) The Child will not to be asked to choose sides between their parents.
(2) The Child will not to be told the details of bitter or nasty legal proceedings going on between their parents.
(3) The Child will not to be told bad things about the other parent's personality or character.
(4) The Child will have the right to privacy when talking to either parent on the telephone.
(5) The Child will not to be cross-examined by one parent after spending time with the other parent.
(6) The Child will not to be asked to be a messenger from one parent to the other.
(7) The Child will not to be asked by one parent to tell the other.
(8) The Child will not to be used as a confidant regarding the legal proceedings between the parents.
(9) The Child will have the right to express feelings, whatever those feelings may be.
(10) The Child will have the right to choose not to express certain feelings.
(11) The Child will have the right to be protected from parental warfare.
(12) The Child will not to be made to feel guilty for loving both parents.
Violations of the Bill of Rights are treated like any other violation of a court order; the non-offending party can bring the other party back to court in order to enforce the ignored provisions and, in some cases, receive an award of attorneys fees to be paid by the offending party. ___________ Experienced matrimonial legal counsel can help keep your divorce on the right track and work towards the best possible outcome particularly where your children are concerned. If you or a loved one have questions regarding custody, parenting time, visitation, or other issues related to the legal impact of divorce on children, or if you want to know more about the New Jersey divorce process generally, please contact us or call us at (856)546-1350 to schedule a confidential consultation with our experienced New Jersey divorce attorneys.