Divorced parents may be losing their rights, at least according to a recent opinion piece in The New York Times. Divorced parents can sue each other; however, married parents cannot. When this happens, judges are often left to determine what is best for the children of divorce—including where they will go to school and where they will attend church. “Judges may even decide whether they play soccer or take piano lessons,” reports Robert E. Emery, director of the Center for Children, Families, and the Law at the University of Virginia. This is likely because the court system often assumes that divorced parentswill not agree on how to raise their children, unlike married parents.
While this may be true in a contested divorce, many divorced parents are able to work together in a way that benefits both children and parents. Emery argues, “when it comes to parenting … the law should treat unmarried people more like married people. Instead of telling parents how to bring up their children, we should honor—and encourage—agreements between parents.”
Custody arrangements, instead of parenting plans, are not necessarily the best options in a society where divorce is as common a part of the social landscape as marriage. With 40 percent of American children being born outside of traditional marriage, the development of a parenting plan is just as common for couples who were never married as it is for divorced parents. Rather than a court-ordered system in which judges determine who gets to make the social and educational decisions for the child, states Emery, parents should legally be encouraged to come up with co-parenting decisions. Furthermore, those decisions should be upheld by court mandates.
A mere six hours of mediation, reports Emery, can have positive effects on the family as far as 12 years in the future. Collaborative law and parenting coordination can also be better for the social and emotional health of children of divorce. Implementing these primary methods of divorce proceedings for families with children helps to ensure divorced parents keep their parental rights.
If you or someone you know has questions regarding the rights of divorced parents, or any other aspect of divorce, please contact an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney today.