Judicial Expectations for the Separated Parent

How Family Court Judges Expect Parents to Behave During Separation and Divorce:

The following rules are to help children of separated parents.  Parents should try to follow these rules and children should feel comfortable enough to remind parents of these rules, especially if they are being broken:

  1. Parents are not to use children as messengers.
  2. Parents are not to use children as spies.
  3. Parents are not to ask their children to keep parents secrets.
  4. Parents are not to say bad things about the other parent in front of the children.
  5. Parents are not to make their children feel that they have to choose one parent over the other.
  6. Parents must accept the children’s right to love and to be loved by both parents.
  7. Parents shall encourage the children’s relationship with the other parent.
  8. Parent shall allow children free access to the other parent through actual visitation and telephone access.
  9. Parents shall respect the children’s relationship with the other parent and shall not question them unreasonably as to occurrences in the other parents home.
  10. Parents shall ensure that the children’s belongings go back and forth with the children and that such belongings are kept in good repair.  Parents shall not leave it up to the children to decide whether or not such items should go from home to home.
  11. Parents shall not do anything to undermine the sense of security and well-being that the children may feel in their respective parents home and shall not attempt to manipulate the children’s relationship with the other parent.  For example, parents shall not instruct children how to address the other parents or the other parents’ partner; shall not second guess events in the other parents home for the sake of undermining reasonable parental rules and authority.
  12. Parents shall acknowledge that children have a right to maintain a close and loving relationship with the other parent and shall put their own feelings and prejudices below what is best for the children.

David Tonge, retired, Kawartha Family Court Assessment Service. Mr. Tonge wrote the first 10 Rules in or about 1990 and Family Court Judges have, over time, added the final two rules to better help parents and children.

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