Children’s voices in divorce are vital

More stories from Ellen Garrett

According to family half of all American children will witness the breakup of their parent’s marriage. That means about half of the students in the halls are children of divorce.

With this many children of divorce, it seems like children would get a say about custody issues, but in many cases when children are asked who they want to live with or what living with each parent was like, their opinions are overlooked.

According to, 75 percent of children with divorced parents live with their mothers. This statistic is not very surprising, considering that the courts seem to favor mothers over fathers in custody battles. In situations like custody, children are treated as objects instead of people.

Being overlooked has real life consequences. For example, according to children who do not have a voice in divorce are more likely to develop mental disorders than children who express their opinions. Also, emotional and mental abuse can rarely be proven in court and if children’s voices are not more important than the thoughts of parents. This abuse can go undetected and carry on for years.

According to, in the state of Kansas, the court can allow a child to testify when they are of sufficient age, maturity and understanding. In most cases the age must be at least 12. With younger children, the courts can meet with the child to assess their maturity and stance before allowing them to testify.

However, the court can decide that the child cannot testify. This is a corrupt rule. If the court decides that a child cannot testify, it overlooks the fact that children are the prime witnesses in child custody battles.

Children’s voices need to be heard in custody situations. According to 86 percent children of divorce are willing to share their thoughts about custody. Children are ready and willing to share their experiences and thoughts, so there is no reason not to hear them. Children are firsthand witnesses of their parent’s parenting and most of their adult lives. Listen to them.