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Father trying to get joint custody wonders if two unrelated toddlers in same bedroom is okay

Your Question:
I live in RI and I am fighting for joint, I lived about 25 minutes away and judge asked for me to move to be closer in order to mantain Joint custody status. He gave me 4 weeks and i have accomplished that. now the argument is that my son is sharing a room with my fiance's daughter. They are both 18 months old. We have a court case next Friday and my lawyer makes me more nervous than if i never talked to him at all. what arre my rights and what do you think will happen and what steps should i take?

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My Answer:

Thanks for writing.

It's irrelevant that you're nervous, right? Nervous is just a feeling that has no bearing on outcome.

I think the judge was a rare one who gave you a condition to meet in order to keep joint custody. He could have simply denied the joint custody. So, be grateful.

You met his condition and appeared to have introduced another factor. You moved into a home with your fiance, who has a young toddler, and you decided that the kids didn't need separate bedrooms.

I can see how a judge may be concerned about this arrangement going into the future. At 18 months, it's really not too worrisome to have step-siblings of opposite genders sharing a room. But what about at 3 or 4 years of age?

I really don't know at what age a child psychologist would recommend the importance of opposite-gender stepchildren to have separate rooms. It's going to be up to you to convince a judge that it's not a concern, and that joint custody should be granted.

The ideal thing would have been to find a way to afford a three-bedroom place, rather than a two-bedroom place.

To avoid any chance of a bad outcome, I have another idea.

Depending up the size and layout of your current home, you may want to consider using temporary construction to convert a den, office, dining room, or part of the living room into a small third bedroom (i.e., big enough for a toddler bed, dresser, and little play area, so maybe 8x8 feet or bigger). It may cramp your living quarters, but it completely resolves any concerns over the shared bedroom.

If it still comes up - an arguments about the "temporary" nature of this solution - it's easy enough to say, "We plan on moving into a more ideal home at the end of the current year-long lease and once we're married. We were just hard-pressed on finances to make the move in 4 weeks in a manner that would best serve the children."

So, for a few hundred bucks on materials at Home Depot, put up some walls (with minimal damage to existing walls or ceiling), hang a door, paint it all a pretty color, and hang fun pictures and posters on the inside of it. Know that it's temporary until you can afford a bigger place.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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