Keeping Kids Out of the Courtroom

by | Mar 22, 2024 | Blog

By Dr. Nellie Taylor-Walthrust

Family court proceedings can have a profound and lasting impact on children, often resulting in emotional and psychological trauma. The adversarial nature of family court, where parents may be pitted against each other in legal battles, can create an environment of stress, uncertainty, and instability for children. As many parents do not have the luxury of leaving their children at home during these disputes, North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center has committed to protecting the children of our community from the long-lasting impact caused by family court.

Why should kids be kept out of court? 

While children often do not have the language to make sense of what is happening inside a courtroom, they are highly attuned to the emotions of adults and can pick up on the tension brewing between their parents. Consistent exposure to conflict can weaken a child’s sense of security and contribute to feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability. When left unaddressed, these emotions spiral into depression, anxiety, and insecurities that often follow into adulthood.

Children caught in the midst of their guardians’ legal battle may feel their relationship begin to strain. One of the primary challenges that can arise is the pressure to choose sides, which can emerge from parental expectations, subtle cues, or observed dynamics in the courtroom. It is important to shield kids from these expectations, as picking a side can result in feelings of guilt and abandonment towards the other parent.

As children bear witness to their family undergoing irreparable changes, they often feel a sense of responsibility for the separation. In trying to make sense of the shift in their family, kids frequently end up believing that they are the cause of their parents’ unhappiness. This is especially true in hearings pertaining to custody and child support when the child is the main topic of conversation.

The Children’s Center

The Children’s Center at Nassau County Family Court is operated by North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center. It is a place of respite for children whose families have business in court. Far from a simple babysitting service, the Children’s Center is an early-learning environment that fosters developmental skills through age-appropriate play, activities, and free books for the children to take home. Every aspect of the Children’s Center is designed with kids in mind, allowing them to explore new things in a structured, professionally supervised way. Though they may face uncertainty at home, we are proud to say that the Children’s Center provides a place for kids to be happy, carefree, and most importantly, safe.

To learn more about volunteering at the Children’s Center, contact Dr. Nellie Taylor-Walthrust, Director at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center’s Leeds Place and head of the Children’s Center, at 516-997-2926, ext. 229, or email

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