A sad girl, divorce and child custodyThe American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers established the Children’s Bill of Rights in 1998 to remind parents that they have an obligation to consider their kids’ needs as they work through the divorce process with their child custody attorney. An equitable divorce agreement respects the rights of the children while resolving disputes between parents.

Children are Impacted by Divorce

Disputes between parents in a divorce impact their children. Feelings of insecurity over the breakup of the family are common. In some cases, children are dragged into disagreements between parents and used as pawns by one or both parties. Some may even be forced to take sides against a parent.

Using children in this manner can leave them traumatized and with feelings of guilt over the breakup of the family unit. Parents must remember that children are not merely spectators on the sideline. They are family members, deeply involved and impacted by the decision to divorce.

Children Have Rights

Illinois law requires that, regardless of the issues contested by the parents, the final divorce settlement must reflect the best interests of the children. In cases where the parental disputes overshadow the needs of the children, the court may intervene to ensure that the rights of the children are protected. When necessary, the court will appoint a separate attorney to represent the interests of the children, reducing parental input into the final divorce and custody arrangement.

It is essential that parents and their child custody attorney work to protect the rights of children as they resolve disputed issues. As outlined by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, children have the right to:

  • Love and be loved by both parents
  • Not be forced to choose between parents.
  • Be safe at all times
  • Not be included in the dispute between parents.
  • Maintain family relationships with relatives of both parents and not be subjected to guilt for wanting to maintain those relationships
  • Just be children, free to act and behave like children

Minimize the Trauma for Children

The anger and trauma of the breakup of their family and the possibility of losing contact with a parent and extended family can have lasting effects on children. Parents who maintain focus on the rights of their children can minimize the trauma and reach a divorce and child custody agreement that serves the best interests of all parties, including the children.