Don’t buy holiday gifts for your kids that will complicate your custody case.
Shopping for the kids? Be careful. If you’re embroiled in an ongoing child custody dispute, holiday gifts can be a source of great confusion and tactical warfare. Consider, for example, the non-custodial parent who buys a new bicycle for his son. The gift is given to the boy when he visits with his father on Christmas Day. When the child is scheduled to return to his mother’s house a few days later, the father refuses to let him take the bike with him. In dad’s mind, the bike will draw his son closer to him and will lure him back to his home over and over again.
There is no perfect answer to this dilemma. What if it’s difficult to shuttle the bicycle back and forth every time the child changes homes? Should the bike be kept at mom’s house, and if so, will the child ever want to go to dad’s house?
Perhaps the best answer is the most obvious one. Don’t buy a big gift without first discussing it with the other parent. Agree on the gift, and set some ground rules on where the gift will be stored. Don’t buy any gift that is tied to a particular home. A gift to your child becomes the property of your child, and your child must have the ability to claim the gift and take it with him. While there may be some exceptions to this rule, any questionable gifts should be discussed by both parents before they’re purchased.