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Child custody cases may benefit from 'bill of rights' for kids

One of the biggest challenges for divorcing couples in Maryland may be the emotional side of divorce for children. There may be confusion, anger, disappointment, and even guilt experienced by children. When determining child custody arrangements and going through the motions of a custody dispute, it is important for parents to include their children in the mix. To help with this process, one author has created a list that's defined as a bill of rights for children of divorce.

The bill of rights is a list of 33 'rights' that may aid children during and beyond divorce to understand their situation. Similarly, the list may help parents understand what their children need. First and foremost, children have a right to be unconditionally loved by their parents. Everyone involved in the divorce process, from the parents to the judge, will consider the best interests of the child. In many cases, this consideration will reinforce most of these 'rights.'

Among the most significant in relation to divorce, children have the right to express their feelings, be taken seriously, express shock at the unfolding events, and to feel that their family foundation is being shaken. They also have the right to have feelings of selfishness, feel that it is unfair when one parent moves on to new people and distractions, and feel strong feelings such as confusion when parental situations change, curiosity and a desire for straight answers, anger and pain, and even guilt thinking that they are the cause of the divorce. It is important for parents to adequately address these feelings.

Child custody proceedings can be ultimately successful for Maryland residents when cooperation, communication, and patience are exercised by all parties involved. While no one has to follow a specific set of rights or rules in order for children to be secure, the author who wrote this list feels that sometimes parents may need to be reminded of the immediate and long-term effects of divorce on their children. Children may have questions and may need to be reminded that they are loved and that the divorce is not their fault. Stability, communication, and a strong working relationship between parents are important for children in divorce and beyond.

Source:, "A Bill of 33 Rights for Children of Divorce," Pamela Cytrynbaum, June 30, 2012

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