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How can your child’s possessions affect property division?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Divorce

Many aspects of divorce can be fraught for couples. That can be especially true when they’re parents of minors. Of course, property division can always be complicated. While some assets have significant monetary value, others have sentimental value. What about your child’s possessions? How can parents divide those between their homes when they’re sharing custody of their child?

A child’s possessions shouldn’t generally be divided by their parents. They belong to the child – regardless of who bought them or which parent most wants their child to use or enjoy them. If you’re divorcing, know that many parenting experts recommend thinking of your child’s home after separation or divorce as encompassing both your and your ex’s homes. That means they can choose what clothes, toys, books and other belongings to keep in each place – and which they’d like to keep with them wherever they are.

Both homes are your child’s

If you’re sharing custody (especially if it’s more or less equally), think of your child’s home as encompassing both of yours. That means they should be able to keep their belongings wherever they choose and take some as they transition between them if they want to.

Certainly, larger items and things that have to be disassembled and reassembled are better kept in one home. Alternatively, you can buy duplicates of things that aren’t too expensive to keep in each home. The less that kids have to pack up and transport when they move between homes, the easier these transitions will be for everyone.

There may also be space constraints. If your co-parent is staying in the family home for a time, while you’re moving to a condo, you may just not have room for some of your child’s larger items, and taking this reality into consideration is wholly reasonable.

Resist the impulse to be possessive of some items

What’s important is not to tell your child that they can’t take something to their other home because you bought it for them and you want it to stay in “your” home. Even more damaging can be telling them that they can’t play with or use something their other parent got them when they’re with you.

Some parents include a simple provision in their parenting plan stating that their child’s belongings are theirs, and that they can decide where they would like to have them. You may also want to specify that both parents will keep things like wardrobe basics, toiletries and electronics in each home. Codifying these expectations can make things less contentious for everyone and benefit your child as well.