Giving a Voice to Children in Custody Agreements

Ruth Bettelheim, a marriage and family therapist, wrote in the New York Times that children’s voices are being ignored or suppressed in custody discussions and agreements. She argues that a custody arrangement generally governs the schedule of children without change until they turn 18, despite the fact that the needs of children change as they get older. To address and meet these changing circumstances, Bettelheim suggests that children be given a voice in the determination of their lives when they reach the age of reason, around age 7; the child’s wishes, along with an assessment of his or her functioning at home, at school, and among peers, should govern a new, binding parenting plan every two years. Reactions to the story can be read here.