This week a judge in upstate New York ordered a son out of his parent’s home.  Michael Rotondo may not have wanted to leave, but at 30 years old, the judge agreed with the parents, he had no right to stay.  Minor children not wanting to leave the family home in a divorce, however, creates different issues.

If one parent is staying in the family home, where the children have always lived, it is sometimes hard for them to want to go to the other parent’s house as may be required under the parenting plan.  If you are the parent who has moved out of the family home, here are some tips for making the transition easier for the minor children.

  1. Depending on the age of the children, involve them in picking out items for their new room so they can be excited about living part-time in a new environment.
  2. Discuss with the parent who is continuing to reside in the former marital residence the need to allow  the children to bring some of their special items to your home.  While often parents become entrenched in keeping things all the same at the former family home, the focus should be on the children and making the transition easier for them.
  3. Begin to refer to the homes by location (i.e. Central Avenue home, Jasper Street home) versus “Mom’s house” and “Dad’s house.”  The former gives the impression that children have two homes, the latter gives the impression that neither home is the children’s home.
  4. Talk to your children about the transition and what you can do to make it easier for them adjusting to their new living arrangements.
  5. Explore together fun and entertaining children activities in the area around your home so the children learn the neighborhood and places in their new neighborhood.
  6. Many times, parents obtain a dog or other pet so the children are excited about coming to their new home.   If you are considering a pet, consider the fact that you may have the children 50% of the time but you will have the new pet 100% of the time!

About the Author:

Marlene Pontrelli is a Member in our Phoenix office. Marlene is a certified specialist in family law. Her practice focuses on all aspects of family law including dissolution, post-dissolution, paternity, child custody and child support matters. She is admitted to practice in California and Arizona. She is a member of the State Bar’s Family Law Practice and Procedure Committee and is a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family law. She has extensive trial and appellate experience including appearing before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Arizona Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Pontrelli has written several books, including as a co-author of the Divorce in Arizona book. She is a frequent lecturer in the area of family law and has conducted workshops throughout the country. Ms. Pontrelli is also an adjunct professor at The Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University, where she teaches the family law class. Marlene may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5081.