The Children's Bill Of Rights When Parents Are Not Together

Every child has rights, particularly when mom and dad are splitting up. Below are children's rights that parents should be aware of when the family is in the midst of a breakup.

Children have the right to love both parents. They also have the right to be loved by both of them. That means a child shouldn't feel guilty about wanting to see his or her dad or mom at any time. It's important for a child to have both parents in his or her life, particularly during difficult times such as the end of the parents' relationship.

Children do not have to choose one parent over the other. A child who has an opinion about which parent he or she wants to live with should let it be known. However, nobody can force a child to make that choice. If parents can't work it out, a judge may make the decision for them.

Children are entitled to all the feelings they have. Children shouldn't be embarrassed by what they feel when parents divorce. It is scary when parents break up. A child should be allowed to be scared. Or angry. Or sad. Or any other emotion.

Children have the right to be in a safe environment. This means that nobody is allowed to put a child in danger, either physically or emotionally. If one parent is hurting a child, it is important that the child tell someone — either the other parent or a trusted adult like a teacher.

Children don't belong in the middle of their parents' breakup. Sometimes parents may get so caught up in their own problems that they forget that children are just kids, and that they can't handle adults' worries. If parents put kids in the middle of a dispute, children should remind them it's the parents' fight, not theirs.

Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are still part of a child's life. Even if a child is living with one parent, he or she can still see relatives on the other parent's side. A child will always be a part of their lives, even if parents aren't together anymore.

Children have the right to be children. Kids shouldn't worry about adult problems. They should be allowed to concentrate on school work, friends, activities, etc. Children just need a parent's love. The parents handle the rest.

IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT AND DON'T BLAME YOURSELF.

Special Concerns of Children Committee, March, 1998

"Children's Bill of Rights" is a publication of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. ©2005. All rights reserved.