On this Independence Day weekend, it is important to remember that the United States Bill of Rights, being the first 10 amendments to our Constitution and which were ratified in 1791, organized our federal government and expanded upon the fundamental concepts introduced in the Declaration of Independence… that it was “self evident” that as people, we all have certain “unalienable rights” and among those are “…Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” The Declaration of Independence, famously proclaimed that “All men are created equal…”, but what about our CHILDREN living with warring parents in a pending or soon to be pending divorce or separation? Where do our children stand? What rights to they have? Do they have certain “unalienable rights” or are our children, due to their lack of a voice, forced to endure the collateral damage they may be caused to suffer by some parents… the very parents who profess to love them? Mustn’t parents who are divorced or divorcing still fulfill their responsibilities to their children beyond buying the next pair of $200 sneakers, the next I-Phone or taking the children on their next trip to Disney? Enter Robert Emery, PhD, professor of Psychology and director of the Center for Children, Families and the Law at the University of Virginia. Dr. Emery drafted “The Children’s Bill of Rights in Divorce” and since it was introduced, his list of “unalienable rights” for our children is used every day in family courts throughout the United States and is routinely placed in settlement agreements by divorce attorneys as well. “Children’s Bill of Rights in Divorce” is founded upon the best interest of the children, a standard used by all New York courts when issues of child custody, safety, support and parenting time are presented to be determined. Dr. Emery’s list of rights for our children seem as if they should be so obvious…but yet, so often sadly and unfortunately, as I said above, our children suffer the collateral damage of divorcing and separating parents, who are blinded by their respective agendas against the other parent. No country is perfect; no Constitution is perfect; no parent is perfect…but to strive to be humane and to always try to be better, one must always think about doing what is right. As history has proven, doing the right thing is often not the easy thing… when it comes to protecting our children in a divorce, the RIGHT thing is to think about them first, second and always, and to adopt, understand and remember the following:
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.
- The right to be a kid.
The Pollack Law Firm, P.C., serving clients in Nassau and Suffolk County, is always available to assist and represent parties in divorce and all other matrimonial and family law matters. Please call today to schedule a free consultation: (516) 938-3330.
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended to provide only general information for entertainment purposes and should never be relied upon as legal advice. One should seek the assistance of experienced matrimonial counsel to assist in explaining the law, options and making important decisions in any divorce, matrimonial or any family law matter. By reading this article, no attorney / client relationship arises in any manner whatsoever.