Sending suitcase for child visits: Necessary?

Whose responsibility is it to provide clothing for a child when he/she goes to visit their other parent? We want to encourage children to think of both of their parents’ homes as their own. One of the things that can help this, is if both parent buy and keep clothing for the child, as well as toys, and stock the child’s favorite shampoo and breakfast cereal. Ideally, a child doesn’t have to pack or bring a thing when they go from one house to the other. After all, why should they need a suitcase? They are going ‘home’.

If you are the parent the child lives with most of the time, and the other parent is not making your child comfortable in their home, don’t put your child in the middle of it. Try talking to the other parent, if the two of you have a relationship that allows the conversation. If you don’t have a working relationship with the other parent, don’t talk to your child about your frustration. It makes them feel responsible for it. If the failure to provide clothing is just one of many problems that occur during your child’s visitation, you may want to visit with an attorney to see if it would be appropriate to seek a modification of the order.

Ideally, a child doesn’t have to pack or bring a thing when they go from one house to the other.

The other alternative is to just pack the suitcase. This is the decision I made with my own children. Your goal is for your child to feel as comfortable as possible while they are away from you. If you are the parent the child visits with, take seriously your responsibility to provide food, clothing, diapers and bottles if applicable, etc. while you are parenting your child. This means you should have your own car seat in your car that the child uses when you are transporting them.

Child support is not intended to cover every need your child has. It is expected that you are covering all expenses, including daycare and clothing, that the children have while they are with you. It will help your child to see you as a capable, nurturing parent, and help the child to feel at home with you if their closet and drawers at your house look like a child lives there. If the other parent sends clothing and you want to take over this task, let them know that it is not necessary in the future. If they send clothing anyway, that does not mean that you have to use it. Take the child clothes shopping and let them select clothes they are excited to wear. If it is not upsetting to the child, just keep the suitcase in the car and return it unopened.

The goal is your child’s comfort and sense of home.

Remember, though, that children are sometimes very attached to clothes. If your child has a special Christmas outfit they are excited to wear, for example, let them wear it, even if you have something else in mind. If your child falls in love with the coat that you purchased for them and wants to take it to the other house, you should let them. You don’t want the child to view everything they have as belonging to “Mom’s house” or “Dad’s house”. Your child should be able to view their clothes as belonging to them.

The goal is your child’s comfort, and sense of home when they are with you. There is most likely a provision in the divorce decree or child custody order which says that everything a child takes over to a parent’s house should come back with them. It makes sense to insist on this for things like I-pads, cell phones and beloved stuffed animals. Don’t be the parent that tries to make a child return home in the same clothing and underwear that they came in. It will look as if you are trying to teach the child that the other parent’s home is contaminated.

Do you have a family law question that you would like to ask a Texas attorney? Post it in the comments and it may be answered in a future video.

Do I Have to Send a Suitcase With My Child When They Go to Visit the Other Parent? from Bolton Law on Vimeo.


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