Best Interests Matter most - not bedrooms Recently a potential client asked -- May a divorced parent share custody of children if she has no separate bedroom for them? The divorced parent wants to have custody of child in a trailer.
Answer: A child doesn't "NEED" a separate bedroom and in fact most people in the world do not have the luxury of separate bedrooms for each child. In fact, I didn't grow up with my own bedroom and many American children do not either. Still, what matters most is "how" the lack of a bedroom affects the child, if it affects her at all. So you have to ask yourself, "why, does it matter that the child does not have his/her own separate bedroom?"
Doe she child "need" more privacy based on the specific circumstances of the case? Is she required to sleep in a common area where it is too loud, too illuminated, or too many people coming and going so he can't sleep? Is there a 3rd party non-relative living there and the child is older and should have privacy? Is the lack of privacy affecting her grades, her self-esteem, her hygiene, is she being exposed to intimate moments between the parent and a 3rd party? Does he have emotional/psychological needs that require him to have a safe and quiet place to decompress? These are some of the reasons that may dictate that the child must have his or her own bedroom.
If the other parent cannot afford more room that should not be the only reason that the other parent loses custody or has her custody reduced. Besides, it is almost always in the child best interests to spend time with both parents so the child will spend at least some overnights there even if the child won't live there 35-50% of the time (noting that both parents have shared physical custody when both have at 35% of the overnights with a child).
What matters most is the quality of the living arrangement. Does she Mom provide for all of the child's needs in her trailer? Does she provide emotional support? Is she physically and emotionally present for the child? Is the trailer and the neighborhood safe? Is there enough food, clothes, books, toys, space, etc.? If so, then the lack of a traditional bedroom will be less important. Child's Basic Needs Judges do not award custody to the richest parent. The Court simply wants to know if you, as a potential custodian, have enough time and love to give to a child - love and quality parenting time are a child's most basic needs.
When it comes to what you have -- a Court wants to know if you have ENOUGH food, ENOUGH clothes, books, toys, and space for your child. It is not a contest about who has the most.
Many loving parents work too much and therefore they are just not able to have a lot of custodial time with a child. While that is sad, sometimes that is completely necessary in order to financially provide for the child. In those circumstances, it is best to fashion a schedule where you can be emotionally available (no phone, no friends over, no dates, etc.). Kids do not "need" separate bedrooms of fancy gaming stations -- they need a parent's love and time.