Most divorcing couples anticipate that they’ll have some conflicts over property division, but they figure it will be things like bank accounts, investments, the home and maybe artwork and other valuables. They don’t realize they can end up in a fight over their children’s possessions -– specifically, whose house they are in.
For some parents, it’s about the money. If you bought your daughter a pair of skis for a daddy-daughter ski weekend, you may think it’s only fair they stay with you. If your wife bought your son a first edition copy of his favorite classic book, she might feel the same way about keeping it his bedroom at her house.
This kind of mindset is only going to hurt your children and make them feel like none of their possessions are really theirs. They’re just more things for their parents to fight over.
There are some ways to think about your children’s belongings that can help you get out of your mindset and help your kids feel equally at home in whichever residence they’re in.
Both of your homes are your child’s home
Remember that your children should be able to call both of your residences home. That means they have a right to keep their possessions wherever they choose -– within reason, of course. There’s a limit to how many things they can practically transport from one home to another.
There will also be times when they need a particular piece of clothing or sports equipment for an event they’re going to while they’re at one parent’s home or the other. However, it’s empowering to them if they can decide they want to keep a favorite toy at one home or a poster they especially like at another one. How much you personally like something or how much you paid for it shouldn’t be a factor.
If you and your co-parent want to commit to recognizing your children’s belongings as theirs, you can put a clause in your parenting plan to that effect. You can also note that they’re free to take them between parents’ homes as they wish. Eventually, your child will end up with clothes, sports equipment, games, toys and books at both houses. That just means they consider both places home.
Working with an experienced attorney can help you find a parenting plan that works for your unique situation.