Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

Your children have rights, even during child custody cases

Your children's interests have to remain the primary focus of your child custody agreement with your ex. When parents are battling it out during a child custody case, they often lose sight of the fact that children have rights as well. It is easy to get so focused on the technical aspects of the case that you forget.

One thing to remember when you are dealing with custody issues is that your children are the ones who are most feeling the effects of what is going on. Keeping childrens' rights in mind might make it easier to make difficult decisions:

#1: Right to a relationship with both parents

With very few exceptions, such as situations involving child abuse, it is in the child's best interest to have a relationship with both parents. It might help for you to remember the qualities that led you into a relationship with your ex while you are trying to support the relationship with the child. Also, focus on how your ex interacts with your children, not how he interacts with you.

#2: Right to be a child

Your children aren't miniature adults and shouldn't be expected to act as such. They don't need to know all the details of the divorce and the situations that led up to this point. They shouldn't be expected to serve as messengers between you and your ex. They mustn't be subjected to the fights and arguments or negative comments about their parents that might come with a divorce.

#3: Right to express their thoughts and feelings

Even young children can have specific concerns, thoughts and feelings about the divorce. Helping the children to find productive and appropriate ways to express these can empower them to handle the situation as well as possible. To do this, you must be willing to listen to the children. Take the time to figure out what they need and work toward providing that for them. Also, keep these points in mind as you and your ex work on the custody agreement.

#4: Right to have consistency and stability

This doesn't mean that you and your ex must have the exact set of rules. Instead, it means that you need to provide a consistent and stable home when the child is with you, and your ex needs to do the same. If the two of you can agree on some ground rules, this might help to bridge the two homes together so that your child has a higher quality of life at both parents' homes.

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Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

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Needham, MA 02494

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