Co-Parenting After Divorce:
The Bill of Rights of Children

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Your initial half-hour consultation with one of our lawyers is of no obligation.

Co-parenting after divorce can be challenging at best. 

Contrary to popular belief, despite the fact that we often see kids placed in the middle of their parents’ conflict before, during and after divorce, most parents want what is best for their kids. They often just do not know how to go about it. 

Parents are often so embroiled as to who is “right” in their conflict, that they often do not realize how the actual conflict itself hurts their kids. Kids don’t care who is “right.” They care that their parents are fighting. 

We hear story after story about how one parent is selfish and does not take the other parent’s view (or that of what is in the best interest of the child) into consideration. When parents are in conflict, we know it is damaging to children (oodles of studies prove this).

Do you have questions about co-parenting after divorce?

At Hemminger Law Group, we deal with tons of questions from our clients about co-parenting after divorce. Although we are obviously not experts in the psychological effects of divorce and how to best protect your children, we do have some pretty strong views about the way things should go.

We know kids should feel free to love both their parents. We know that kids should feel at home at each of their parents’ home. We know that kids should be able to keep their special things with them rather than having what a particular parent purchased remain at that parent’s house. We know that kids should enjoy special holidays without being transported long distances to satisfy their parents on special days (like Christmas, for example).

Below is a very helpful guide we came across years ago. We are grateful to have permission from the author, Lois Nightingale to re-print it here (and hand it out to our clients). 

As we hear, love is not only a feeling. Love is behavior. When clients have questions about co-parenting after divorce, this guide does a really good job of helping them “get it” in terms of what children need, and what children should be entitled to despite their parents separating or being separated. 

Although parents will ultimately make mistakes when co-parenting after divorce, we think that continued effort can help parents move forward in a positive way that is great for their kids.

The Bill of Rights of Children
A Guide to Loving Your Children Responsibly

When co-parenting after divorce, we invite parents to remember that kids should have the right to: 

  • Continue to love both parents without guilt or disapproval (subtle or overt) by either parent or other relatives.
  • Be repeatedly reassured that the divorce is not their fault.
  • Be reassured they are safe and their needs will be provided for.
  • Have a special place for their own belongings at both parents’ residences.
  • Visit both parents regardless of what the adults in the situation feel, and regardless of convenience, or money situations.
  • Express anger and sadness in their own way, according to age and personality (not have to give justification for their feelings or have to cope with trying to be talked out of their feelings by adults).
  • Not be messengers between parents; not to carry notes, legal papers, money or requests between parents.
  • Not make adult decisions, including where they will live, where and when they will be picked up or dropped off, or who is to blame.
  • Love as many people as they choose without being made to feel guilty or disloyal. (Loving and being loved by many people is good for children; there is not a limit on the number of people a child can love.)
  • Continue to be kids, i.e. not take on adult duties and responsibilities or become a parent’s special confidant, companion or comforter (i.e. not to hear
  • repeatedly about financial problems or relationship difficulties).
  • Stay in contact with relatives, including grandparents and special family friends.
  • Choose to spend at least one week a year living apart from their custodial parent.
  • Not be on an airplane, train or bus on major holidays for the convenience of adults.
  • Have teachers and school informed about the new status of their family.
  • Have time with each parent doing activities that create a sense of closeness and special memories.
  • Have a daily and weekly routine that is predictable and can be verified by looking at a schedule on a calendar in a system understandable to the child. (For instance: a green line represents the scheduled time with dad, and a purple line represents the scheduled time with mom, etc.)
  • Participate in sports, special classes or clubs that support their unique interests, and have adults that will get them to these events, on time without guilt or shame.
  • Contact the absent parent and have phone conversations without eavesdropping or recording.
  • Ask questions and have them answered respectfully with age-appropriate answers that do not include blaming or belittlements of anyone.
  • Be exposed to both parents’ religious ideas (without shame), hobbies, interests and tastes in food.
  • Have consistent and predictable boundaries in each home. (Although the rules in each house may differ significantly, each parent’s set of rules needs to be predictable within their household.)
  • Be protected from hearing adult arguments and disputes.
  • Have parents communicate (even if only in writing) about their medical treatment, psychological treatment, educational issues, accidents and illnesses.
  • Not be interrogated upon return from the other parent’s home or asked to spy in the other parent’s home.
  • Own pictures of both parents.
  • Choose to talk with a special adult about their concerns and issues (counselor, therapist or special friend).

Dr. Lois Nightingale, Ph.D. has written the Bill of Rights of Children in order to assist families in understanding how conflict between parents can affect children after the separation. 

The Bill of Rights of Children, in our view, assists parents when co-parenting after divorce in returning the focus of parenting back to the children and in seeing potential conflict from the child’s perspective. 

She is the author of the book, My Parents Still Love Me Even Though They’re Getting Divorced, a story/workbook for children and parents facing divorce.

By Val Hemminger, Lawyer

Return from Co-Parenting After Divorce 

Contact us at Hemminger Law Group if you want to meet with one of our family law lawyers.

Phone us now at 250-220-8686 or use our contact us form.

Your initial half-hour consultation with one of our lawyers is of no obligation.

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At Hemminger Law Group we commit to providing you with the highest quality legal information on this website. However, nothing on this website should be construed as actual legal advice. Every case is different and it is important that you consult a lawyer before making any decisions with respect to a legal matter.

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