Likely you and your spouse will be spending a fair amount of time during your divorce deciding which of the items you’ve accumulated over the years belong to whom and how your property will be divided. But what about your children’s possessions?
If you’re sharing custody, the parent who’s going to a new home will likely buy the necessary furniture, bedding and other items that will stay in their home ready for their children when they stay there. But what about clothes, toys, games, books and other possessions?
Unfortunately, some separated and divorced parents can get very possessive of those items – particularly when they’ve paid for them – and insist that they remain in “their” home. What those parents forget is that their children now have two homes, and they should be able to have a say in what they want to have in each of them.
Since you can’t expect your child to bring all their belongings with them every time they move between homes, it’s best to accept that sometimes they’ll choose to leave things you bought them at your co-parent’s home.
A mom who thinks of that new raincoat she bought her daughter as “hers” and gets angry when she decides to leave it at her dad’s house because it’s not expected to rain again for a while is — whether she realizes it or not — putting her own needs and feelings ahead of her child’s. A dad who wants the new tennis racket he bought his son to stay at “his” house is doing the same.
Of course, you want your child to have some clothes, toys and other belongings at each home. If all of their belongings seem to end up at your ex’s and they find themselves without shoes, pajamas or games when they’re with you, then it’s time to step in.
If they have things like retainers or glasses, those should travel with them unless they have two of everything. Young kids will need some help deciding what to bring, of course. However, the focus should be on what they need and want — not what you bought them.
It may be wise to include a provision in your parenting plan that addresses your children’s belongings. It can stipulate that their belongs are theirs and they’re free to have them in whichever home they choose. Your attorney can help you.