One of the key aspects of divorce – and sometimes one of the most emotional – is property division. Couples divide everything from real estate to cars to furniture to workout equipment to kitchen utensils. But what about your children’s possessions?
If you’ll be sharing custody, then the parent who’s moving out of the family home first will likely need to buy some furniture along with bedding and other items that will remain in their home for your child. What about their other possessions, like electronics, sports equipment, toys, books and clothes?
Unfortunately, some parents forget that those things belong to their children – regardless of who bought them. Your child has a right to choose where they want to keep them – or if they want to bring something back and forth when they move between homes. That’s true for things they already have when you split up and for items you buy them in the future.
Your child’s home extends to both of your houses
It’s easy to get into the habit of referring to “your mom’s house” or “your dad’s condo” when talking to your child. However, even if you don’t share custody equally, both residences are part of your child’s home. That means they should be able to have whatever they want or need with them wherever they are.
Certainly, there’s a limit to how much they (or you) can reasonably carry back and forth. You’ll just need to have duplicates of some things. You should keep other items in the home where your child uses them most. If your child is young or needs some help with good decision-making, then you’ll have to provide some guidance.
Nonetheless, neither parent should ever buy something for their child on the condition that they keep it at “their” home. That also means your child should feel comfortable using, wearing or playing with something your co-parent got them in front of you. If your co-parent is constantly buying them things you can’t afford, then that’s another conversation you’ll need to have with your ex.
It may be helpful to codify your commitment to recognizing your child’s belongings as theirs to keep where they choose by adding a clause to your parenting plan stating that. That way, you have something to refer to and remind you that these are your child’s belongings.