Continue to love both parents without guilt or disapproval (subtle or
overt) by either parent or other relatives.
Be repeatedly reassured that the divorce is not their fault.
Be reassured they are safe and their needs will be provided for.
Have a special place for their own belongings at both parent's residences.
Visit both parents regardless of what the adults in the situation feel,
and regardless of convenience, or money situations.
Express anger and sadness in their own way, according to age and
personality (not have to give justification for their feelings or have to
cope with trying to be talked out of their feelings by adults).
Not be messengers between parents; not to carry notes, legal papers, money
or requests between parents.
Not make adult decisions, including where they will live, where and when
they will be picked up or dropped off, or who is to blame.
Love as many people as they choose without being made to feel guilty or
disloyal. (Loving and being loved by many people is good for children; there
is not a limit on the number of people a child can love.)
Continue to be kids, i.e. not take on adult duties and responsibilities
or become a parent's special confidant, companion or comforter (i.e. not to
hear repeatedly about financial problems or relationship difficulties).
Stay in contact with relatives, including grandparents and special family
Choose to spend at least one week a year living apart from their
Not be on an airplane, train or bus on major holidays for the convenience
Have teachers and school informed about the new status of their family.
Have time with each parent doing activities that create a sense of
closeness and special memories.
Have a daily and weekly routine that is predictable and can be verified
by looking at a schedule on a calendar in a system understandable to the
child. (For instance: a green line represents the scheduled time with dad,
and a purple line represents the scheduled time with mom, etc.)
Participate in sports, special classes or clubs that support their unique
interests, and have adults that will get them to these events, on time
without guilt or shame.
Contact the absent parent and have phone conversations without
eavesdropping or tape-recording.
Ask questions and have them answered respectfully with age-appropriate
answers that do not include blaming or belittlement's of anyone.
Be exposed to both parents' religious ideas (without shame), hobbies,
interests and tastes in food.
Have consistent and predictable boundaries in each home. (Although the
rules in each house may differ significantly, each parent's set of rules
needs to be predictable within their household.)
Be protected from hearing adult arguments and disputes.
Have parents communicate (even if only in writing) about their medical
treatment, psychological treatment, educational issues, accidents and
Not be interrogated upon return from the other parent's home or asked to
spy in the other parent's home.
Own pictures of both parents.
Choose to talk with a special adult about their concerns and issues
(counselor, therapist or special friend).
To file for divorce, one spouse must have lived in California for the last six months, and the county where the action is filed for the last three months. Spouses who have lived in California for at least six months, but in different counties for at least three months can file in either county. These California residency requirements must be met in order for the court to have jurisdiction of the case.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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