The New Jersey Childrens Bill of Rights in Divorce and Dissolution Actions was formulated by the New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. It appears in full at the close of this blog. Although this is not the law, many lawyers and courts incorporate it into agreements and orders in family court in order to encourage parents to consider the rights of their children and their responsibilities as parents in a challenging situation. This is, unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view, not a particularly enforceable document even when incorporated by agreement.
We urge all parents to consider the impact of divorce and separation on their children, and to put those interests first. In our practice, we will never encourage a parent to use a child as a weapon in divorce. We will, however, do everything possible to stop our client’s adversary when they are putting their children through unnecessary pain by ignoring the sound advice of the Children’s Bill of Rights. The law is limited in what it will do to interfere with parenting that is not deemed abusive, but as we negotiate and as we argue before the court we will always try to help our clients make decisions and arguments that keep in mind the long term well being of their children.
If you are going through a divorce, please contemplate the sound wisdom of the Children’s Bill of Rights below.
BILL OF RIGHTS FOR CHILDREN IN DIVORCE AND DISSOLUTION ACTIONS
1. The right to be treated as important and separate human beings with unique feelings, needs, ideas, and desires, not existing solely to gratify the needs of their parents.
2. The right to not participate in the painful games parents play to hurt each other, or be put in the middle of their battles.
3. The right not to be a go-between or a message courier for their parents.
4. The right to a continuing, relaxed, and secure relationship with both parents.
5. The right to express love and affection for, and receive love and affection from, both parents.
6. The right to know that expressions of love between children and parents will not cause fear, disapproval, or other negative consequences.
7. The right to know that their parents decision to divorce is not their fault.
8. The right to know that it is not their responsibility to keep their parents together.
9. The right to continuing care and guidance from both parents.
10. The right to age appropriate answers to questions about the changing family relationships, without placing blame on either parent.
11. The right to know and appreciate what is good in each parent.
12. The right to be protected from hearing degrading or bad comments about either parent.
13. The right to be able to experience regular, consistent, and flexible shared parenting time with both parents, and the right to know the reason for changes in the parenting schedule.
14. The right to have neither parent interfere with, or undermine, parenting time with the other parent.
15. The right to not be forced to choose one parent over the other.
16. The right to express their feelings, concerns, and ideas about the divorce.
17. The right to remain a child without being asked to take on parental responsibilities or to be an adult friend or companion to either parent.
18. The right to the most adequate level of economic support that can be provided from the best efforts of both parents.
19. The right to continue ongoing positive relationships with the people (friends, neighbors, grandparents and extended family) who were an important part of their lives before parental divorce.
This Bill of Rights was adopted from “The Children’s Bill of Rights” developed by the American Bar Association, Section of Family Law, and was modified and expanded by the NJ-AFCC Special Projects Committee (Jeannette DeVaris, Sam Forlenza, Donald Franklin, Sandra Saul, Phil Sobel, Frank Weiss.)
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The above is not specific legal advice nor does it create a lawyer-client relationship. Do not rely upon it without consulting an attorney to see how the information presented fits your unique circumstances.