Retired Judge Has Wise Words for Divorced Parents

Judge John Norman Harkey is retired. The following standing order is still issued today in every divorce case in Independence County, Arkansas.

Proper Conduct of Divorced or Separated Parents

TO THE PARENTS: Your children are usually the losers when parents separate. They are deprived of the full-time, proper guidance that two parents can give. This guidance and direction are essential to their moral and spiritual growth.

There is no doubt some bitterness between you, but it should not be inflicted upon your children. In every child’s mind, there must and should be an image of two good parents. Your future conduct with your children will help them if you observe and comply with the following orders:

  1. DO NOT poison your child’s mind against either their mother or father by discussing their shortcomings.
  2. If you are separated but not divorced, DO NOT expose your children to any person with whom you may be emotionally involved. This includes living with a person with whom you are emotionally involved.
  3. If you are divorced, DO NOT expose your children to any person with whom you may be living unless you are married to that person. Proper and acceptable contact and association with other persons after divorce is not prohibited under this rule.
  4. DO NOT use your visitation as an excuse to continue arguments with your spouse or former spouse.
  5. DO NOT visit with your children if you have been drinking or engaging in any kind of illegal drug use.
  6. DO NOT visit your children at unreasonable times.
  7. DO NOT fail to notify your spouse or former spouse as soon as possible if you are unable to keep your visitation. It is unfair to your children to keep them waiting and worse to disappoint them by not coming at all.
  8. Make your visitation as pleasant as possible for your children by NOT questioning them regarding the activities of your spouse or former spouse and by NOT making extravagant promises which you know you cannot or will not keep.
  9. The parent with whom the children live MUST prepare them both physically and mentally for the visitation. The children should be available at the time mutually agreed upon.
  10. If one parent has plans for the children that conflict with the visitation and these plans are in the best interests of the children, be adults and work out the problem together.
  11. Always work for the spiritual well-being, health, happiness, and safety of your children.

A copy of this order shall be attached to each decree before it is filed. This order is incorporated by reference in such Decree.

John Norman Harkey, Circuit Judge

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