Your kids and property division: Getting their say

As you've probably discovered, divorces are hard enough when only two people are involved. Once you consider older children in your divorce, everything becomes more complicated.

It's not just visitation that becomes a complication, it's property division and dividing your retirement and assets. Specifically, for your child, his or her interests may be in which parent obtains the home and furniture. Where do your child's belongings go, with mom or dad?

Teens and divorce: The reality of a complicated situation

If your teen is concerned about which parent to live with, he or she may also be concerned about which home has his or her belongings. When parents divide property in a divorce, it's possible that the teen's belongings will also split by court order. Normally, parents work to keep those belongings in the teenager's primary home. However, if the teen lives with both parents equally, the division of that property might vary.

For example, a mother moving to a new home but with less income to purchase items for the home may request the teen's furniture for the child's room in the new apartment. The teen may have a preference to stay in the home he or she is in presently, even though the mother requests the items move to her location. For the child, this becomes complicated, since he or she may prefer living with dad but has little say in what happens to his or her belongings.

What should parents do to help?

The reality is that parents need to address what their kid wants. Someone who is 15, 16 or 17 knows what he or she wants and may make it clear. Younger teens may not. Discuss where he or she wants to live and try to maintain as much normalcy as possible in that location. If the teen above wanted to live with mom, for instance, he or she might prefer to take bedroom furniture, game systems or other items to the new home. If he or she wants to live with dad, then the child may opt to purchase items for the new home instead.

Sometimes, it's a necessity to have duplicates of important items, especially if they seem to go "missing" when taken to the other parent's home. It's normally a good idea to have two sets of clothing, toys or games, or other items your teen relies on, so there is a back-up in each home.

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