One advantage of mediation is that divorcing couples can work out their own agreements, including how they’ll divide the property they’ve accumulated over the years. Often, couples will ask how they should divide up their children’s belongings.
The answer is usually simple. You don’t.
It’s easy – and understandable – for parents to have a sense of ownership over their children’s things. After all, they likely paid for them. However, even if you were the one who spent hours in an American Girl store with your child before walking about with multiple bags and a pounding headache, or your spouse was the one who helped them choose their first set of skis, that doesn’t mean they’re yours to divide.
Your child’s home spans both of yours
Your child likely feels a loss of control over their life right now as it is. The last thing they need is their parents fighting over which house they can keep their various toys, games, books, electronics, sports memorabilia and more.
If you’re sharing custody, it can be helpful to think of your child’s home as spanning across both of yours. That means they should be able to keep their belongings wherever they choose and take them as they transition between them if they want to.
There are limits, of course. You can’t have your child packing up everything whenever they go to the other home. That’s not practical. It also leaves them feeling like a visitor in whichever home they’re in.
Further, they need to have a space (preferably at least their own bedroom and bathroom) that’s set up for them all the time with their chosen bedding, furniture and wall art as well as toiletries, some clothes and other essentials.
It can help to include a provision in your parenting plan regarding your child’s belongings. It can be something as simple as stating that their belongings are theirs to keep in whichever home they prefer. Through mediation, you can make an individualized parenting plan that addresses the unique needs of your child.