At the forefront of every Oklahoma child custody decision is what is in the “best interest of the child.” Big decisions like what physician to use or what school to attend generate much discussion and often end in a heated dispute that needs to be settled by a judge’s ruling, but “little things” or items can also evoke conflict. Clothing might not be seen as an issue of potential conflict between parents, but it often turns out to be one of the biggest causes of strife between separated households.
Fry & Elder certified life-coach attorney Melissa Fell’s practice focuses on legal and life-coaching services for parties going through a divorce. As a certified life-coach attorney, she knows the importance of addressing small, everyday issues before they grow into problems and offers the following tips when dealing with the issue of child clothing between separate houses.
Invest in a Travel Wardrobe
One way to squash out any potential issues with clothing between households is to invest in a travel wardrobe that can go to the other parent’s home and that you are not too concerned about getting back in a timely fashion. Walmart or other discount clothing stores are good spots to find items on sale.
As children are constantly growing, you need not have too many items at one time so that you can continue to supplement with the next size up. It’s better for clothing to be a little big than too small. Most children’s clothing can be found with elastic or adjustable waist and pant hems can be rolled or easily tacked up. Be sure to always have properly fitting undergarments for your children, as they may not realize that they are too small and can cause discomfort. Keep an extra pair of shoes that can be worn for school and play (a pair of tennis shoes can go anywhere for a kid) and at least one extra jacket for any weather at your home. Kids and parents tend to forget outerwear especially when the weather is nice one day and nasty the next as we see in Oklahoma all the time.
Keep Your Child out of any Clothing Issues
If your child is talking about getting his or her clothes back to you, then that means he or she has been told by you to get them back. Whether you meant to or not, you have now involved your child in an adult issue.
Clothing and the responsibility to get them back to a parent’s home should not be a concern of a child. When a parent puts pressure on the child to do something, and the parent on the other side disagrees or they want to make an issue out of it, it only serves to put the child in the middle and cause stress for that child. Instead, have them wear a set of size and weather appropriate clothing that is not expensive or fancy that you are not fixated on having immediately returned when they are going to the other parent’s home. If you do need the clothing home immediately, or if you think that the outfit your child wore over to the other parent’s home may not be appropriate to wear on their return day, pack an outfit for them to wear home in into their backpack. Almost every child carries a backpack that can accommodate one change of clothes.
If you are respectful of the other parent’s items (wash according to directions, have the child wear them back as soon as practical) and provide what the child will need when they are at the other parent’s home, then you are looking out for your child’s best interest. Try to work out a system so that you send your child home in the outfit they wore over to your house previously from the other parent’s wardrobe. It should not have to be the next day, since wearing the same clothes two days in a row may be embarrassing to a child, but you should be able to rotate outfits at least every 3rd time, depending on the structure and frequency of visitation. If you and the other parent cannot agree on this system, then we help get this incorporated into an agreement or order for you.
Why Consult with a Proven and Certified Life-Coach Attorney?
Don’t use clothing and personal items as a tool to fight with the other parent. It only causes more conflict and may impair your ability to secure the custody and visitation that you are seeking. If this is a source of conflict, contact Fry & Elder today to set up a personal consultation with Melissa Fell. As a proven certified life-coach attorney, Melissa will help you address it in a manner that will not put you or your children in the middle. The divorce and child custody attorneys at Fry & Elder Tulsa and Fry & Elder Oklahoma City are here to help with the big issues, as well as the small, everyday problems that grow into bigger issues if not addressed.
Melissa can coach you in ways to make your co-parenting experience more peaceful and calm for both you and your children, and to help you secure the custody and visitation you see as best for your children.