Some divorced couples have really figured out how to co-parent in the best interests of their kids. Others? Not so much. So, over a period of several months, I did some research, asked many questions, read books and articles, and then I developed a document patterned after the Bill of Rights (the first Ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution). I’m now distributing THE CO-PARENTING BILL OF RIGHTS© to every divorcing couple with children (present clients and as well as past). I ask my clients to read the one-page document, sign it at the bottom, and post it in a conspicuous place in their homes. I’ve decided to share it here in the hopes that reading it may make a difference.
THE CO-PARENTING BILL OF RIGHTS©
We, the parents, in order to form a more perfect co-parenting relationship, establish justice for our children, insure domestic tranquility, and promote the general welfare of the family, DO HEREBY ADOPT the following BILL OF RIGHTS:
FIRST AMENDMENT: We agree, at all times, to put our children first, by attending to their psychological and physical well-being and safety.
SECOND AMENDMENT: We agree, at all times, to treat the other co-parent with respect.
THIRD AMENDMENT: We agree, at all times, to communicate with each other so that we have consistent household rules for our children.
FOURTH AMENDMENT: We agree, at all times, to be flexible with each other regarding visitation so that the best interests of our children will remain our priority.
FIFTH AMENDMENT: We agree, at all times, to be considerate with the other co-parent’s time, maintaining courtesy and punctuality to the best of our ability.
SIXTH AMENDMENT: We agree, at all times, that we will not speak negatively about each other, our friends, or our extended families in front of our children.
SEVENTH AMENDMENT: We agree, at all times, that we will not question our children about the personal life and activities of the other co-parent.
EIGHTH AMENDMENT: We agree, at all times, that we will not have any sort of heated discussion in front of our children.
NINTH AMENDMENT: We agree, at all times, that we will not involve our children in adult issues concerning custody, child support, or any other legal matters.
TENTH AMENDMENT: We agree, at all times, that we will not make our children feel guilty, nor test their loyalty, about time spent with the other co-parent.
Please let me know what you think. Do you have any suggestions? Have I missed anything? And if you know of anybody who is co-parenting well, please give them a shout-out by commenting. You don’t have to name names, unless you want to.