One of the more challenging aspects of divorce for children when their parents are sharing custody – even it’s not a 50-50 custody split – is living in at least one new home. Even if one parent is remaining in the family home, the child will need to adjust to living in another, likely smaller, place with their other parent. If that parent has moved to a nearby state, that can add to the adjustment period.
Of course, if you’re looking for a new place to live, you’ll want a home (whether it’s an apartment, condo or house) that is in a safe area and is large enough for your child to have their own room (and preferably a bathroom). You’ll also want to look for a home with nearby places your child can play, like a park, swimming pool or basketball court.
Once you’ve found a place, there are things you can do to make the transition easier for your child. Let’s look at just a couple.
Let them have a say in the decorating
If they’re old enough, let them go with you to choose furniture, bedding and other items. Even young children can help pick out blankets, bedspreads and small décor items. If you’re setting up an entertainment or play area in the living room or other spot, let them participate in that as well. The more they have a say in how their new home looks, the more quickly it will feel like theirs.
Keep clutter to a minimum
This is especially crucial if you have a small place. Clutter, whether it’s yours or theirs, is only going to make it feel smaller. If you’ve gotten more household items in the divorce than you need, put some in storage or donate them. Even if you have plenty of room, clutter can make kids stressed out, anxious kids even more so. While you might be going for the “lived-in” look, your child might see the constant mess as evidence that the place is temporary – or that maybe you’re not good at living on your own.
The better your child adjusts to your new home and the more comfortable they feel there, the easier it will be to protect your custody rights. Of course, having experienced legal guidance from the start is also crucial as you work toward what’s best for your child.