Parents who are divorcing need to remember that their children have needs and rights. This can be difficult at a time when the adults are focusing on working out the divorce agreement and finalizing everything at the end of the marriage.
No matter how easy or contentious your divorce, you and your ex need to ensure that your child's rights are being respected. Doing so can help them to feel more secure so they can cope better with the major life change.
These nine rights can help guide you as you go through a divorce:
1). Your child shouldn't be burdened by the tension of the divorce.
Disagreements between you and your ex should be handled in private.
2). Your child should never be used as a messenger.
This includes communications between parents, but also other adults. Make it clear that everyone needs to go directly to the other party when there are issues.
3). Your child should remain in contact with their family members.
Just because you divorced the other parent doesn't mean that the family members on that side should be forgotten or ignored. They are still your child's family.
4). Your child should have a relationship with both parents, as long as it is appropriate.
Sometimes, circumstances might prevent your children from being able to spend time with the other parent. In these cases, you must abide by the court's order, including making the child available for supervised visits.
5). Your child shouldn't hear anyone disparaging their parents.
This can be difficult since you can't control other people, but you must make it clear that your children won't be permitted around anyone who speaks harshly of you or your ex. Make sure you aren't saying bad things about your ex either.
6). Your child should be happy and healthy.
This is their only childhood. They shouldn't be so bogged down by negative emotions and events that they can't enjoy just being a kid.
7). Your child should have the same standard of living as before the divorce.
This means keeping up with extracurricular activities and similar matters. Let the child know ahead of time if this isn't going to be possible due to the divorce, including if it is financially impossible to keep up with the costs.
8). Your child must be free to express their feelings.
Some children might not know how to do this in an appropriate manner, so you must help them to work through these emotions. This is especially common with younger children.
9). Your child should feel comfortable in both homes.
This can take work between you and your ex, especially on transition days. Make sure your child has a place of their own in your home, even if it is only a drawer to keep their belongings.
Making the process go smoothly
The custody agreement you have for your children should outline all the basic points that you and your ex will follow. This can take a lot of the guesswork out of what is coming. It might be a good idea to come up with a version of these rights that you can include in a parenting plan.