Children's Bill of Rights in Divorce

This children's bill of rights for children of divorce has been around for awhile now. Many researchers and other professionals include it in their work. I'm not sure who the original author is. I've seen one version from Dr. Robert Emery in his book, The Truth about Children and Divorce, and another from Dr. Jane Major in her book Creating a Successful Parenting Plan. And along the way in my reading I have seen other versions with no indication of authorship. The point however, is that even in divorce, adults still have responsibilities to fulfill for their children.

Children of divorce have little to no power. They must live with the decisions that their parents make for them. Believing in and following this basic bill of rights for your children will go a long way toward helping them successfully deal with your decision to divorce.

Bill of Rights for Children of Divorce

  • I have the right to love and be loved by both of my parents, without guilt, pressure, disapproval or rejection.

  • I have the right to be protected from my parents' anger.

  • I have the right to be kept out of the middle of my parents' conflict, including the right not to pick sides, carry messages, or hear complaints about the other parent.

  • I have the right to have a regular daily and weekly routine, one that is not filled with unpredictable disruptions, chaos, or unpleasant surprises.

  • I have the right to not have to choose between my parents. It is my right to not be expected to choose with whom I will live. Having to make this kind of choice will always hurt someone, and therefore, me. I have this right even when I am a teenager. I CAN NEVER CHOOSE BETWEEN MY PARENTS.

  • I have the right not to be responsible for the emotional needs of my parents.

  • I have the right to know well in advance about any major changes that will affect my life.

  • I have the right to reasonable financial support from my parents.

  • I have the right to appropriately express my feelings to my parents and expect that they will listen to me.

  • I have the right to not be expected to make adult decisions. I have the right to remain a child and not replace a parent in my duties, or to act as an adult companion, personal friend or comforter to my parents.

  • I have the right to like and love as many people (such as stepparents and relatives) as I want to without guilt and without being made to feel disloyal.

  • I have the right to a life as close as possible to what I would have had if my parents had stayed married to each other.

Think about your own children and what their bill of rights might include. You might want to take time to write it out so that it will be fresh in your mind as you continue on your journey of parenting after divorce.

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