Judge Michael Haas retired in December, 2002 after 26 years of service as a Judge in Cass County, Minnesota. There are different stories on the origin of his now famous (at least in family law circles) words to divorcing parents. The one constant in the stories is that they all attribute the words to Judge Michael Haas of Minnesota. As an experienced family law attorney who has handled hundreds of custody and parenting time cases, I absolutely love the following words attributed to Judge Haas:
“Your children have come into this world because of the two of you. Perhaps you two made lousy choices as to whom you decided to be the other parent. If so, that is YOUR problem and YOUR fault.
“No matter what you think of the other party – or what your family thinks of the other party – these children are one-half of each of you. Remember that, because every time you tell your child what an ‘idiot’ his father is, or what a ‘fool’ his mother is, or how bad the absent parent is, or what terrible things that person has done, you are telling the child half of HIM is bad.
“That is an unforgivable thing to do to a child. That is not love! That is possession. If you do that to your children, you will destroy them as surely as if you had cut them into pieces, because that is what you are doing to their emotions.
“I sincerely hope that you do not do that to your children. Think more about your children and less about yourselves, and make yours a selfless kind of love, not foolish or selfish, or your children will suffer.”
I have often heard judges on the family court bench in Maricopa County paraphrase Judge Haas. Hopefully parents remember these profound words as they consider how to proceed with what no doubt is a very difficult time in their and their child’s lives.