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Children’s Bill of Rights from…..

Children’s Bill of Rights


Here is another Children’s Bill of Rights which I came across and should help divorcing parents think about what the best interests of the children really mean and other ideas to accomplish this.

We the children of the divorcing parents, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish these Bill Of Rights for all children.

  1. The right not to be asked to “choose sides” or be put in a situation where I would have to take sides between my parents.
  2. The right to be treated as a person and not as a pawn, possession or a negotiating chip.
  3. The right to freely and privately communicate with both parents.
  4. The right not to be asked questions by one parent about the other.
  5. The right not to be a messenger.
  6. The right to express my feelings.
  7. The right to adequate visitation with the non-custodial parent which will best serve my needs and wishes.
  8. The right to love and have a relationship with both parents without being made to feel guilty.
  9. The right not to hear either parent say anything bad about the other.
  10. The right to the same educational opportunities and economic support that I would have had if my parents did not divorce.
  11. The right to have what is in my best interest protected at all times.
  12. The right to maintain my status as a child and not to take on adult responsibilities for the sake of the parent’s well being.
  13. The right to request my parents seek appropriate emotional and social support when needed.
  14. The right to expect consistent parenting at a time when little in my life seems constant or secure.
  15. The right to expect healthy relationship modeling, despite the recent events.
  16. The right to expect the utmost support when taking the time and steps needed to secure a healthy adjustment to the current situation.

Please realize that this is NOT law, anywhere. The “Children’s’ Bill of Rights” is not legally enforceable, but rather suggestions made to keep the best interest of the child a priority.


Children’s Bill of Rights

Children’s Bill of Rights

While researching the children’s best interest, I came across this article which I wanted to share. As parent’s we always think that we are right about our children, but did you know that children have rights too?

As I am bound by the rules not to edit these rights, I specifically want to bring your attention to points 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17

March 1 – April 20 1996


We, Children from seven countries and three continents, having communicated with each other over the Internet, agree that the following are natural rights of Children all over the world, and hereby ratify them:


We believe that a successful society invests its best resources and hopes in the success of its children.
An unsuccessful society ignores or maltreats its children.
Children are the future of our species.
How a society treats its children is a direct reflection of how that society looks at its future.

The Children’s Bill of Rights proposes rights for children that all adults on Earth should honor, so that we may help create the very best future for ourselves and, in turn, our own children.
A moral and competent society is one that respects and upholds the rights of its children.
A society that fails to do so is immoral and incompetent.





As compared to adults, children until the age of 18 have the right to receive special care and protection.
Children all have the same rights, no matter what country they were born in or are living in, what their sex is, what their race is, or what their religion is.


Children have the right to inherit a world that is at least as good as the one their parents inherited.
Children have a responsibility to think about how they will leave a better world to their children, and, when they become adults, they have the right and duty to act on this.


Children have the right to participate in discussions having to do with the directions our society is taking — on the large political, economic, social, and educational issues and policies — so that children can help create the kind of world they will grow up in.
Adults have an obligation to communicate their views of these large issues in terms that children can understand, and provide children with the same information that is available to all adults.
Children have the right to understand how things change within society, and to learn how to influence these changes.


Every child has the right to express his or her opinion freely, and adults should address that opinion with the child in every decision that affects him or her.
Children have the right to carry out research to help form these opinions.
Children have the right to express their views, obtain information, and make ideas or information known.
Children have the right to form their own views in matters of conscience and religion.


Children have guaranteed access to all important communications media so that they may communicate nationally and internationally amongst themselves and with adults.


Children have the right to participate in all committees and decisions that make plans and set policies that directly or indirectly affect children.


Children have the right to privacy to the same extent adults have.


Children should be treated with respect and courtesy by adults, as well as by other children.


Children separated from their birth parents at birth or at an early age have the right to know that this happened.
Children have the right to know their name, who their birth parents are, and when and where they were born.


Children have the right to meet with others, and to join or form associations, equivalent to that held by adults.


Children have the right to have nurturing and caring parents or guardians.


Children have the right to leisure, play, and participation in cultural and artistic activities.
Children have the right to enjoy at least a few hours every day when they are free from worries.


Children have the right to be protected from work that threatens their health, education, or development.
Children have the right to have pocket money so that they may learn to manage money.


Every child has the right to a standard of living adequate for his or her physical, mental, spiritual, moral, and social development, no matter how wealthy his or her parents are.


Children have the right to be protected from all forms of maltreatment by any adult, including a parent.
This includes but is not limited to: physical abuse, including torture, violence, hitting and slapping; harmful drugs, including alcohol and tobacco; mental abuse; and sexual abuse.
Infanticide is prohibited.
No child shall be forced into marriage.


Children have the right to have many different things, people, and ideas in their environment.
Children have the right to listen to music of their choice.
Children have the right NOT to have their creativity stifled.


Every child has the right to education, education that aims to develop his or her personality, talents, and mental and physical abilities to the fullest extent, no matter how wealthy the child’s parents are.
Education should foster respect for a child’s parents, for the child’s own cultural identity, language and values, as well as for the cultural background and values of others.
Children have the right to an excellent education in any school.
Schools will differ not in the quality of the education they offer, but only in their philosophies of teaching, and what professional specializations they stress.


Adults have the obligation to provide children with information from several different sources.
Children should be protected from materials adults consider harmful.
Children have the right to have reality presented to them in a balanced and accurately representative fashion.


Children have the right NOT to be taught that one group (racial, national, religious, etc.) is superior to another.



Children have a right to a clean environment (water, air, ground, sea).


Governments and countries must decrease national debt which will have to be paid for
by future generations.


Children over 14 have the right to vote on issues that directly affect children, in all local, regional, national and international elections.


Children have the right to be kept alive and in the best health and medical care science can provide, no matter how wealthy their parents are.


Children accused of crimes have at least the same legal rights as adults.
No child shall be institutionalized against her or his will without due process rights.



Young people under 21 have the right NOT to go to war.

The Children’s Bill of Rights may be freely reproduced and distributed provided it is done so in its entirety and unaltered, and with this paragraph attached.
As of April 20, 1996, children from 7 countries and 3 continents had ratified The Children’s Bill of Rights.

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Putting your children’s best interests first

The Best Interests of Your Children


While conducting some research for an upcoming book within The Smart Divorce® series I had an interesting conversation with a child protection lawyer about the best interests of the children. From this lawyer’s perspective and what I see in my consulting practice and watching what goes on around me, we agreed that people often talk about it, but don’t necessarily do it – that is put their children’s best interests first. What does best interest of the children really mean? Is it fitting your schedule into your children’s or the other way around?

Defining Children’s Best Interest

There are many definitions as to what best interest means. The Geneva Convention defines it as acknowledging that every child has certain basic rights, including the right to life, his or her own name and identity, to be raised by his or her parents within a family or cultural grouping and have a relationship with both parents, even if that means they live in two different households. It sounds straightforward, but it isn’t necessarily that easy because divorce is complicated by emotions. And – these emotions if not managed, can impair your parenting skills – causing you to think you are putting your children’s best interest first, but many parents are not! This can happen when parents are overwhelmed with their own emotions causing their parenting skills to be weakened.

Simply put, the best interests of the children means doing what is best for your children. How do you achieve this when you might be feeling raw and bitter? You need to:

  • deal with your emotions (use your support network for help such as a therapist, clergy, support groups, friends and family)
  • Put your emotions on the shelf so that you can be the best parent for you children.
  • Let your children participate in activities and do what they would normally have done if you were married.


Children should not be punished because an

activity falls on one parent or the others time

While a parent might be supportive of an extra curricular activity, they don’t let the children participate because it falls on their time – thinking that it is punishing the other parent, when actually it is the children who suffer.

You need to recognize, that children are not possessions they are not “my children, not your children”– they still have 2 parents, you need to reframe your thinking into these children being our children.


What Happy Divorcées Know

What Happy Divorcées Know

Why is it that some people can move on happy, while others walk around bitter and angry many years postdivorce?

It’s not necessarily the decisions you make, but how you

learn to live with them

There is one thing for certain and that is, there is no looking back. All I and everyone around me wants, is to be “happy”. What does happiness really mean, and how do we realize this goal? What I’ve learned is that life is a journey. It is a rocky road full of bends and bumps and lots of uncertainty. But, if you allow it to be so, it can be exciting, frustrating, sad, lonely, enjoyable, adventurous and fulfilling. The challenge is to make the choices that lead us to this place of “happiness” while enjoying the ride life offers.

Waiting for Perfection

If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll be waiting forever. Just the other day, someone sent me an email with a picture of four skeletons sitting around a table playing cards……were these unhappy people waiting for something or someone to come into their lives to make them happy? Were they waiting for that perfect time for their happiness to arrive? This picture, made me realize that if you wait, you’ll be waiting forever. Any result that is truly worthwhile needs to be worked at.

Is the ever searching answer for

happiness really possible?

Can people actually be single post divorce and be happy? If they are then how do they achieve this reality? What is their secret? Is it like one of those new fad diets? Just follow these few simple steps and poof a new you, easily transformed while you sleep. Ha! Not likely. Maybe you think that the illusive goal of happiness only exists when you find that perfect mate; your knight in shining armor, or damsel in distress. Well, you’re single and that image you had of “happily ever after” needs to be reworked. It is possible; it’s just not the cliché.

Life postdivorce is a journey

into the unknown

Not realizing at the time, I had embarked on an adventure with some mysterious destination yet to be determined. I opened myself up to many new experiences and opportunities and on the way I have become a very different person. The difficulty I now have is reconciling who I am today, with the person I was while married or even while I was in my 20’s. I’ve changed. I now have straight hair when I had curly hair. There are fine lines around my eyes. In reality though, the changes have become significantly more than just physical.

This much I can say for sure; I had to do something when I realized that life would pass me by if I just waited for that perfect mate. Not growing, my life could be summed up in a five minute conversation!

I consider myself to be very fortunate. Not only do I have three amazing children, an extremely supportive family, but also an incredible group of dynamic friends. How did I gain such a rich life? I certainly did not have this when I separated. It was with a lot of hard work and desire to be happy.

Tips on Becoming a Happy Divorcée

As the “title of this piece suggests” according to happy divorcee, co-author Cathy Greenberg, an expert on the new science of happiness, AND co-author of the “What Happy Know Brands, LLC book series, happiness can be found in all aspects of our lives. Both good and not so good.

While researching my next book on divorce I came across “What Happy Women Know” and was fortunate to speak with co-author and behavioral scientist Cathy L. Greenberg, Ph.D. who shared this wisdom from her own “experience” with divorce that we can all use for achieving happiness postdivorce:

With every ending comes a new beginning but often our culture does not provide the “rituals” we need to close one door as we open another. We know how to celebrate birth, engagements, marriage and even death. Too often however, we are not familiar with how to deal with “less than positive” outcomes like divorce. I always look for the opportunity in everything. A divorce can bring new freedom to examine your life, a new job, or to learn new things. Divorce can help you understand what to do differently in the future and how to build on your strengths rather than focus on weaknesses. The secret is to think positive and stay out of the “negative looping” our brains are famous for. When I went through my own divorce I learned that I could count on myself because I focused on the “positive” about me. My strength was not only important for my wellbeing but for my daughter as well. I knew that the memory of my divorce would be painful, but the resilience I had as I looked at the future was infallible. I always had me, my gifts and my abilities to count on no matter what. I always look back at my divorce as an opportunity to learn more about the best in me.

For more tips on the science of happiness and becoming a happy divorcee check out these books:

What Happy Women Know: How New Findings in Positive Psychology Can Change Women’s Lives for the Better by Dan Baker, Cathy Greenberg, and Ina Yalof

What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better by Dan Baker and Cameron Stauth


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Moving Between Mom’s Home and Dad’s Home

Children Live out the Divorce

Children are the one’s who live out the divorce. Often times, it is the children who move their belongings week in and week out, from mom’s home to dad’s and dad’s home to mom’s. As parent’s we need to consider the impact and make the adjustment and transition as easy as possible for them – to minimize the impact of how they live with divorce.

Minimize the impact of transition between homes

The easier a parent can make the transition for their children, the better it is for the family. Transition can also be difficult for you as a parent, because you’re giving up your children for a period of time. But you must realize that this is not about you; it is about your children.

I remember that for the first few months when my children left to be with their father………

…..they were not themselves when they came home. They were hyper and wound up. They would run to their bedrooms to make sure everything was still the same. It was a mixed bag of emotions for all. It’s like they had one personality at their dad’s house and another at mine. I was told that’s normal. Although I was aware of these differences, having them react differently to me certainly hit me hard.

Give your children time to adjust

I’ve learned to give my children their “adjustment time.” I realized that they were sort of compartmentalizing their surroundings–from Mom’s house to Dad’s house. We now have a routine when they come home from their dad’s. I usually make a little treat (chocolate chip banana bread is their favorite), they relax a bit, and then we snuggle and watch TV. Here are some other tips for easing the transition:

Give children something to look forward to when they come home. Talk to them about what this could be–a special snack, alone time, a TV show to watch, and so forth.

Involve your children in what they need to do when they come home (check e-mail, read, do homework–whatever offers them comfort and makes them feel at home).

Ask your children: what can I do for you to make it easier for you?

Whether or not you like your former spouse and whether or not you agree with his or her parenting style, there is not much you can do about what occurs at the other home. Children are entitled to spend time with both parents. Your task is to send them off in the same way you would if you were sending them anywhere else where you wanted them to have a good time while they’re away from you. Your job is to put your children’s best interest first.

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Watch Deborah talk about………

The Smart Divorce – Live

If you haven’t seen the show “On the Line” on CTS you may want to watch it on March 10, 2008 on at 2pm. This show is a live-to-air one hour current affairs program. Listen to Deborah talk about how to have a smart divorce. And, if you are in the viewing area, please call in with your questions. This show airs in Ontario and Alberta.

Deborah is also part of the panel on Three Takes, a lifestyle-based studio show that gets behind the scenes and reveals what being single, married and divorced is really all about. Watch “Three Takes” on the Slice network, on May 7, 2008 at 12 noon and repeated at 6pm, also on May 8 at 8am. Don’t miss it, broadcast all across Canada!

Steven and Chris on CBC

If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch it, you may want to check out The Steven and Chris Show on CBC. It airs Monday – Friday at 2pm. I was on the show and talked about The Smart Divorce If you want to read about this segment, just click on the link:

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The Finances of Divorce

The Finances of Divorce


A client came into my office the other day, in tears. She was just about to sign papers to purchase her new home, but was now feeling unsure of her decision. My client was in the middle of negotiating her financial agreement and wanted to prepare herself for the fresh start she desired when her divorce became final.

There is no crystal ball as to how this will end……

While you might have an idea of where you would like to see yourself financially post-divorce, this objective and the final outcome might not necessarily the same.


Mistakes to avoid

  • Don’t make any significant investments before your settlement is signed.
  • Don’t make any significant purchases while negotiating your settlement – you might end up being responsible for that purchase, such as jewelry, vacation, clothing and so on.
  • Don’t make purchases based on projections; you never know how it will turn out.

Establish your own financial identity

If you have been the financially uninformed spouse, and you do not have a credit rating, now is the time to start building one.

If you are in the matrimonial home and your spouse has left, you might want to consider changing the household bills to your name. Make sure you pay these off on time and in full. This is a good way to start establishing a good credit rating.

If you had a joint credit card with your former spouse, the principal card holder has the credit rating. Apply for your own credit card. If you are a first time card holder, you can always start out with a small credit limit and gradually increase it as you pay off on time and prove to be a good credit risk.


Get your finances in order

All lawyers agree on how important it is for their clients to be as financially aware as possible. It’s the best way to learn your rights and obligations and determine realistic expectations early in the divorce process. Your lawyer can then give you informed opinions based on fact, not on speculation. And the more you can manage and organize your information for your lawyer, and establish realistic financial goals, the more you can help reduce your lawyer’s billable hours!

·  Get involved in your finances. Know the basics – pay the bills and file the statements. Learn how your daily and monthly expenses are managed.

·  Determine where the money is coming from and how it is applied toward your budget.

  ·   Take part in setting up investments such as retirement funds, and understand where and what the other assets are.

Many lawyers suggest that if someone is contemplating a divorce or separating, one of the first things they should do is accumulate the financial information.


If there is nothing to fix, then it’s not broken……

My home is run down, but

it’s not broken…

The cabinet door in my kitchen has fallen off the hinge, the hot water tank just burst, the fridge door won’t close properly and I need a new roof. But while my home is in need of physical repair, it certainly does not need emotional repair.

I wrote about this in my book, The Smart Divorce: Proven Strategies and Valuable Advice from 100 Top Divorce Lawyers, Financial Advisers, Counselors and Other Experts



You wouldn’t believe how many people it resonated with.

I’m divorced, but I don’t have a

“broken home”

Perhaps I’m sensitive, but I don’t consider my children to be growing up in a “broken home.” When I talk to my children, we call ourselves a family because that’s what we are.

We do not compare ourselves to more “traditional” families with two parents living at home. Divorce may change a family’s structure, but we’re still a family. All families ­­– so-called “traditional” families and the rest of us – all have challenges, no matter how our living arrangements are configured.

Make life work for your kids

As a parent, your challenge is to make life work for your kids. Ensure they don’t view themselves as disadvantaged or as “children of divorce.” They’re regular children.

When I glimpse into families with two parents living at home, my home often appears to be working wonderfully well.

I may be a bit more frazzled than someone in a home with two parents living there – but that’s because of the practical everyday exigencies of life with three active children. (And who really knows what goes on behind closed doors. Just because there are two parents, does that always mean both parents share all the responsibilities? Don’t compare!)

There’s no one to share the driving with

I often have to be in two places at the same time. I run a business, but I still have to manage my personal affairs – on my own. So while I might be a bit more stressed (Did I mention I’m an A type personality?) my children are growing up in a healthy and loving environment.

I have house rules, set curfews (although I have been a bit lax at times), my children must get their homework done, and I’m always there to kiss them goodnight and listen to their worries.

Think about a few things…

What about blended families? Does blending suddenly unbreak “broken homes”?

What about the blended families where the culture is more like oil and water?

How about a family where both parents are living together but constantly fighting?

Or a family where both parents live together but one parent is never at home? Always working, always away on weekends and never around for the kids.

Constance Ahrons ,author of the highly praised books, We’re Still Family and The Good Divorce calls a single parent household a binuclear family –– a much healthier way to view a single parent household.


So, what do we call ourselves – FAMILY. A wonderful, supportive family, that is who we are.



The Meaning of Family………..

Living in the province of Ontario, I am fortunate to have the day off tomorrow because of the new statutory holiday “Family Day”.  This holiday was created because the provincial government feels that “there is nothing more valuable to families than time together. And yet it seems tougher than ever to find, with so many of us living such busy lives.”


Families.  Single parent households, blended families, same-sex families, cohabitating families…….there are, I know, many other reconfigurations that I haven’t even mentioned.  When you’re divorced and single suddenly the words family day take on new meaning. 


What if you’re divorced with no children, and perhaps no extended family in your life to share the day – does that mean you can’t celebrate? I suggest, reach out to your friends who have become your extended family.  Let them know how special they are to you.  Think about what family means to you and start building important bonds and relationships that you hope can be long lasting. 


If you have become estranged or alienated from your family and children use this time to reflect and try to understand what went wrong.  Perhaps this can be the day when you start mending those broken relationships.  The ending of a relationship between a parent and a child is probably one of the most painful experiences to ever happen.


To be estranged is a breakdown of the bond between a parent and the child and a distance between the two occurs.  For what ever reason, there was something that caused the loving relationship to turn into one of apathy or hostility.  Even worse, is parent alienation, which is a form of mental abuse.


“The most heinous situation in child custody disputes is called pathological alienation or parent alienation syndrome (PAS). In this scenario, one parent becomes obsessed with destroying a child’s relationship with the other parent when there is no good reason to do so. Alienation can be mild, moderate, or severe….. The children’s will and choice are removed from them through a form of brainwashing. This is a serious form of child abuse, because if it isn’t stopped, the children are headed for psychiatric disturbances, failed relationships, and dysfunctional lives in which they will pass this behavior on to their own children.”


The Smart Divorce: Proven Strategies and Valuable Advice from 100 Top Divorce Lawyers, Financial Advisers, Counselors and Other Experts (Chicago Review Press, July, 2007)

What do you do to overcome these devastating scenarios?  Dr. Robert A. Simon, a clinical and forensic psychologist in California suggests: 

“Parental Alienation Syndrome, though a very real phenomenon, is something that I believe has become rather “trendy” these days. One of the things I’ve come to understand about PAS is that even when a parent deliberately sets out to alienate the children from the other parent that the other parent often behaves in ways so as to “confirm” the alienation. In terms of re-establishing a relationship with your children, it is vital that you look carefully at yourself and at what you are doing or have done that may play into the hands of the children’s other parent.. Otherwise, no matter what the courts do, the children will still struggle in their relationship with you”. 

“My suggestion is that you consult with a qualified, experienced family law specialist who has worked with issues of alienation before and that you also hire a family law forensic psychologist to consult with you and the attorney on the matter. “

I also suggest that you work with a parenting expert, psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker to help understand the dynamics and guide you to put the relationship right.  If you are dealing with a painful experience and having a difficult time rebuilding the relationship, you should still try to work with one of these professionals because you are most likely dealing with your own emotional turmoil that needs healing.

For a gut wrenching story on the disastrous effects of PAS I urge you to read A Kidnapped Mind: A Mother’s Heartbreaking Story of Parental Alienation, by Pamela Richardson.  A Kidnapped Mind is a heartrending and mesmerizing story of a Canadian mother’s exile from and reunion with her child, through grief and beyond, to peace.

I would also like to refer you to the links at the side of this blog, there are some helpful sites to research these topics as well. 

What I hope that you will take away from reading this post is how important it is for children to have a healthy relationship with both parents.  Of course, if one parent is abusive either physically or emotionally, that is not what I am referring to.  I am talking about a loving, healthy relationship where children are not used as pawns and both parents take their responsibilities seriously meaning emotional, financial and ensure their basic needs met. 

If you are contributing to the breakdown of the relationship or your child’s other parent is, please reflect and consider the long term effects on your child and help to start rebuilding those relationships today. 

If you are as fortunate as I am to have a healthy relationship with your children, then give them an extra hug today and tell them how much you love them.

Family day, parent child relationships and the meaning of family I’m sure for many is a hot topic.  I urge you to share your thoughts.  What are you doing to encourage a good relationship, overcome a painful relationship, or living with a strained relationship…….I would love to hear from you, please share your thoughts.

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The Smart Divorce Workshops

Limited space is still available in The Smart Divorce™ Workshops. These workshops are appropriate for individuals contemplating or already experiencing a divorce. Strategies for reducing financial costs and personal turmoil will be presented. Participants will learn what to expect legally and emotionally, and so be able to move through the process with confidence and focus while saving time and money. A subsequent session will address parenting issues, how to work with parenting experts more effectively, and available resources. Feedback from therapists and lawyers has indicated that The Smart Divorce Workshops have helped to prepare individuals for the process and make them better clients.

Program details:
The Smart Divorce: Learning the Basics – February 23, 2008
The Smart Divorce: Parenting Through Divorce – March 1, 2008

Time: 9:30 – 11 am
Location: 12 Lawton Boulevard, Toronto (Yonge and St. Clair)

If you feel that you could benefit from any of these programs please contact me at
905 695 0270 or by email at