Chances are, if your child is moving out, you'd like them to move out and stay out.
Not that you don't love them, but you're ready for them to succeed on their own.
This post covers how to know when it's time for your kid to move out, what essential documents you'll need to gather for your child, and how to properly handle those documents. Also covered are the additional documents kids in the foster care system and the adults helping them should gather and store.
This post is the first in a multi-part series, covering how to help your child succeed at moving out on their own.
Whether they are headed to college or not, it's a huge adjustment for all parties involved. The argument could be made that moving off to college is more often a soft transition - with lots of continued help potentially from the parents and school. This article by NYU Child & Adolescent Psychology provides some great tips, in addition to what I'll be sharing, for helping parents and kids manage the psychological impact of transitioning to college.
It used to be common practice to move out after high school, at about 18 or 19 years old. And legally, they aren’t entitled to live with you past 18 years old.
A May 2016 Pew survey indicates that 18-34 year olds are doing just that, “a record 32 percent of young adults live with their parents. For the first time in more than 75 years, living in Motel Mom is the most common kind of living arrangement.”
In fact, according to the Pew survey, living with a parent became the most common young adult living situation in 2016 for the first time on record!
So how do you know when “it’s time” for your kid to move out?
“If you’re in a situation where your adult child is living with you and it’s mutually beneficial – or at the very least mutually respectful – that’s fine.”
Their article goes on to give some good advice for dealing with a kid who has already overstayed their welcome.
Hopefully, you can come to an amicable resolution, unlike these parents, whose unemployed 30-year-old son refused to leave until they sued to evict him — and won. Although, it may comfort you to know that precedence is on your side.
If having your adult child living with you is not working out or you’ve just decided that it’s the right time for them to spread their wings, you'll want to set them up for successful independent living. There's more to this than can easily fit in one blog post, so I will be covering this over a series of posts. This post will cover the first essential step.
Gather their essential documents & teach them how to store them for safe-keeping.
- Certified copy of their birth certificate
- Social Security card
- Health insurance information
- Medical records
- Passport, if they have one
- Driver’s license or government-issued identification card*
*IMPORTANT NOTE: While, not required, it is recommended that you get a REAL ID license or id card. Without it, you may find yourself unable to do certain things such as enter a federal facility, board an airplane, or buy firearms or ammunition.
If your driver's license is up for renewal, you cannot just mail it in if you want the REAL ID. You need to go to the DMV in person with your original birth certificate, original social security card, and proof of State residence.
For more information about getting a REAL ID in California, visit the CA DMV's REAL ID FAQ.
Beyond the aforementioned basics, there are other documents any young adult should have at the ready.
- Educational records
- Immunization / Allergy Records
- Vehicle registration / ownership papers
- Proof of vehicle insurance
- Credit reports – Even if they don’t have a credit history, it’s a good idea to run credit reports, to make sure their identity wasn’t stolen. Why not? It's free.
For youth leaving the foster care system
The American Bar Association recommends providing a young adult exiting the system with the following additional documentation:
- Letter including the dates that the youth was within jurisdiction of the court
- Letter including a statement that youth was in foster care, in compliance with financial aid documentation requirements
- Documentation of the youth’s health insurance or Medicaid
- Documentation of a health power of attorney for the youth
- Proof of the youth’s citizenship or legal residency
- Clear and age appropriate written instructions on filing a petition for the youth to re-enter care, including a completed sample petition
- Clear and age appropriate written instructions on the filing process for accessing their case file
- Death certificates of the youth’s parents OR Termination of Parental Rights orders
In addition, the American Bar Association recommends obtaining through a court order if necessary:
- The youth's entire educational records
- The youth’s entire health and mental health records
If you are missing important documents or are having trouble tracking them down, the California Ombudsman for Foster Care website has a list of links to help you track them down.
So you've gotten the documents together, now how should they be stored?
You may want to consider keeping copies (or the originals) at home in case your kid loses track of them.
Safewise recommends putting them in a plastic sleeve to protect them from spills then placing them in a safety deposit box or home safe. Otherwise, a locked file cabinet is another good option.
Depending on how you comfortable you are with it, you may also want to consider digital or online storage. The primary advantage of digitizing your personal documents is that it gives you an edge should a fire, flood, or other disaster damage or destroy them. Visit the Leavitt Group for more information on How To Digitize Your Personal Documents.
One final important thing to discuss when talking about essential documents is the proper disposal of any documents containing sensitive information.
Safewise writer, Hillary Johnston, also recommends using the shredder,
"At least once a month, shred your receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, expired credit cards, and utility payments you no longer need. Don’t ever throw out a receipt that came from a transaction you used your credit card with, as your number and/or name is likely on there and criminals can use that to their advantage."
One final thing to consider, maybe it's a good idea to get your own documents in order while you're at it. My documentation is this put together. Is yours?
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