Children’s Bill of Rights: What is It?
Robert Emery, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Children, Families, and the Law at the University of Virginia. He created the following children’s bill of rights. Emery says, “If you can give your children these freedoms, you will have gone a long way toward filling your responsibilities as a parent.”
This Bill of Rights is designed for children of divorcing or separating parents. It also applies to children in custody disputes. Lastly, it’s written from the perspective of the child:
- The right to love and be loved by both of your parents without feeling guilt or disapproval.
- The right to be protected from your parents’ anger with each other.
- The right to be kept out of the middle of your parents’ conflict, including the right not to pick sides, carry messages, or hear complaints about the other parent.
- The right not to have to choose one of your parents over the other.
- The right not to have to be responsible for the burden of either of your parents’ emotional problems.
- The right to know well in advance about important changes that will affect your life; for example, when one of your parents is going to move or get remarried.
- The right to reasonable financial support during your childhood and through your college years.
- The right to have feelings, to express your feelings, and to have both parents listen to how you feel.
- The right to have a life that is a close as possible to what it would have been if your parents stayed together.
- The right to be a kid.
The children’s bill of rights is not law. Judges aren’t required to consult it. Instead, they are guidelines to promote your child’s well-being during and after a divorce.
Many have adopted the Bill of Rights. They’ve also made their own changes. Because of this, many versions exist on the internet. Sometimes they vary by State. However, this article uses the original version.
These rights invoke many themes I see in child custody and divorce cases. For example:
- Parents working together is critically important.
- Children are not chattel. Their best interests are paramount.
- A parent’s rights are subordinate to the child’s well-being.
- Both parents’ contributions matter, including financial ones.
- Children should not be involved in adult disputes.
For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page. If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page.