The moment your spouse moves out of the marital home (or you do) in preparation for divorce, your children will have two places to call home: their current residence and that of their other parent. The change may upset them in the beginning, as younger children in particular become anxious when their routines are disrupted, but with patience and creativity you can help them move past any trepidation and come to welcome the change.
Below are some suggestions for making the kids more comfortable with their new, dual-home lifestyle.
Encourage them to participate
When the new house or apartment is being set up, involve the children in age-appropriate ways. Let them choose their bedrooms and even give them a say in how the rooms will be furnished and decorated. They can even accompany you or your spouse (depending on who will be living there) on grocery shopping trips, so that they can choose their favorite foods for the fridge and cupboards. Older children can even offer their input on the home’s other furnishings.
Make the new home familiar
The children will adjust more quickly if the new home has familiar aspects. For example, if the kitchen walls were yellow in the marital home, paint the new kitchen the exact same shade if possible. If Friday night has traditionally been pizza night, maintain the routine in the new place, ordering from the same pizzeria if possible. Try to duplicate as many visuals and routines as possible, at least in the beginning.
Have all essentials in the new home
When the children have to pack a suitcase each time they come for an overnight stay with you or your spouse, they are going to feel more like guests than members of the new household. Keep plentiful supplies of toiletries, clothing, games, and electronics on hand, so that the kids have to bring along as little as possible.
Maintain consistency between both households
There should be little to no variation in the rules that govern both households. If you make a point of sending the children to bed at 9pm on a school night while their other parent lets them stay on the computer until past midnight, the transition to a two-home life will be hard to achieve. Have a long talk with your former spouse so that common ground rules can be discussed and agreed upon.
Divorce puts the entire family through a huge transition, but the dual-household arrangement is especially challenging for kids to accept, at least in the beginning. When you anticipate their worries and needs and then accommodate them, they will soon adjust and thrive. Jayson Lutzky has more than 34 years of legal experience. He offers compassionate and skilled representation in divorce and matrimonial matters. If you are considering divorce or if you have already been served with divorce papers, then set up a free in-office initial consultation with Mr. Lutzky. Call 718-514-6619 or visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com.