Property and housing arrangements

After changes in the family structure, parents and children should all be ensured of housing

In case of a change in the family structure (such as separation), one or both parents are likely to move out of the matrimonial home. Parents may experience economic insecurity and conflicts about property and housing.

The main aim is to secure safe housing for both parents and children. In order to ensure this, parents can temporarily move into their relatives’ households. For example, the house of their parents, siblings or other extended family members. The extended family can provide support until both parents are able to stand on their own feet again.

What practitioners say

Consistent with literature research:

All family members should have suitable housing. In cases where families are separating, it is very important to ensure that parents and children both have a safe house to live in.

Try to arrange both new homes close to each other. If possible, parents should live close to each other so that children can have frequent contact with both parents.

Siblings should stay together. Do not split up siblings in cases of separation into different households.

Follow up on new housing arrangements. Ensure agreements are working for all family members and make changes if necessary.

 

Other suggested practices:

Plan your housing finance together. Have a clear and transparent financing plan from the beginning of owning or renting a property.

Both spouses should share the responsibility for housing. Both parents should contribute to the house whether financially or in-kind. From maintenance and construction to household chores, both the man and the woman should be involved.

Make sure children are safe. In cases of domestic abuse remove the children from the abusive parent. Ensure that both houses are comfortable and safe environment for children.

Married couples should be encouraged to co-own the matrimonial home. A matrimonial home is a shared home for both parents and children. Therefore joint-ownership is encouraged.

Agree on how to handle housing arrangements. Housing arrangements should be mutually agreed upon. Prenuptial arrangements should be encouraged to specify who owns what property before marriage.

In cases of separation, jointly decide on fair compensation for jointly owned property. The value of the house should be estimated by someone with expertise in valuation. One party could then buy the house against this price or it can be jointly decided to sell the property.

Both the women and the man should access land in order to support themselves. When both men and women and children are dependent on their land for food and living, they should both have access to this. The family and community should ensure that all family members have access to land and suitable housing.

 

Note: Ugandan law does not regulate prenuptial agreements.

Resources and Methodology

Family housing

During a first assessment of the available literature, we were able to identify an intervention for sharing information with children, this being: parents limiting the disclosure of information about the separation.

For children, is actively limiting disclosure of information about the other parent more effective than sharing all information for their well-being?

The databases used are: HeinOnline, Westlaw, Wiley Online Library, JSTOR and Taylor & Francis.

For this PICO question, keywords used in the search strategy are: communication, parental conflict, separation, divorce, children, information, revealing, disclosure.

The three main sources used for this particular subject are:

  • Matthew R. Sanders, W. Kim Halford and Brett C. Behrens, Parental Divorce and Premarital Couple Communication (1999)
  • Tamara D. Afifi, Tara McManus, Susan Hutchinson and Birgitta Baker, Inappropriate Parental Divorce Disclosures, the Factors that Prompt them, and their Impact on Parents’ and Adolescents’ Well-Being (2007)
  • Paul Schrodt and Tamara D. Afifi, Communication Processes that Predict Young Adults’ Feelings of Being Caught and their Associations with Mental Health and Family Satisfaction (2007)

The article by Sanders, Halford and Behrens is based on a detailed observational analysis of couples’ interaction. The article by Afifi, McManus, Hutchinson and Baker bases its findings mostly on clinical and empirical evidence. The article by Schrodt and Afifi uses both empirical and meta-analysis to support its findings. According to the HiiL Methodology: Assessment of Evidence and Recommendations, the strength of this evidence is classified as ‘low’ to ‘moderate’.

Desirable outcomes

It is important to note that, based on uncertainty reduction theory, children need some information about the separation in order to reduce their uncertainty about the state of their family (Afifi, McManus, p. 80).

 

Undesirable outcomes

Research has shown that parents’ inappropriate disclosures give children psychological distress, physical ailments and feelings of being caught between their parents (Afifi, McManus, p. 79). Examples of inappropriate information are: negative information about the other parent (including complaints on lack of child-support), sensitive information and information judged not to be suitable (such as on financial issues, the reason for separation and personal concerns of the parent), and information that makes children feel caught between their parents (Schrodt, p. 209).

If children are completely uninformed about the separation, they can feel deceived, which can produce mistrust, diminished satisfaction with their parental communication, and a fear of establishing committed romantic relationships upon maturity (Afifi, McManus, p. 80). It can be difficult to for some parents to determine the fine line between disclosing the right amount of information and inappropriate information.

 

Balance of outcomes

In determining whether actively limiting disclosure of information to children about the other parent is more effective than sharing all information for their well-being, the desirable and undesirable outcomes of both interventions must be considered. The available literature suggests that certain information is not to be disclosed for the sake of the wellbeing of the child. In particular, revealing negative information about one parent would have severe negative effect physically and psychologically in both the long and short term. This type of information is classified as ‘inappropriate’. However, it is important to keep in mind that children should be informed during the separation process.

 

Recommendation

In light of the undesired outcomes of revealing inappropriate information to children, we make the following recommendation: For the well-being of children, it is appropriate that parents disclose information on the separation, albeit in a considered and limited way.


 No  Yes


 No  Yes