When a couple is divorcing, there are a great number of issues that need to be worked out: dividing up accumulated belongings, assets, and memories, financial settlements, even care and visitation of family pets has become a big concern in recent years. However, all of these problems pales in comparison next to the ultimate question — custody of the children.

When a divorcing couple cannot come to a mutually agreed-upon agreement regarding custody of the children (and let’s face it, it is a very rare couple who can), it falls to the court system to intervene and facilitate an arrangement “in the best interests of the child.” When they do this, one very important detail they consider is the living environment that each parent will provide.

While this may seem rather obvious, it is actually a stumbling block for many parents. Typically, one parent remains in the family home while the other is forced to move out, thus putting the relocating parent at a distinct disadvantage in this area.

It is vitally important to find something that provides an age- and gender-appropriate bedroom situation, and an environment that avoids over-crowding. You must also consider the future: as children grow older, they need an increased amount of their own “space.”

Ideally, you should try to find housing that is at least comparable, if not an improvement on what the children had before the divorce. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just similar in terms of living space and amenities.

Of course, your finances may limit your options. However, no matter where you end up, it is of utmost importance to keep it clean and habitable. Judges are extremely influenced by pictures of dirty homes, overflowing trash cans, unclean kitchens, and dingy rooms. Even if you must rent something that is less than perfect, adequate sleeping areas and superior housekeeping will go a long way toward keeping you on equal footing with the other parent.

Kiki Anderson has been counseling couples, families, and children for more than 20 years. She has seen the anguish and heartbreak of divorcing families, and is passionate about equipping families, and especially children, with the best strategies available. For more child custody strategies, visit Kiki’s web site at http://www.best-custody-strategies.com/