Teens are a difficult age range to deal with during divorces. They usually have strong opinions and may be highly independent already. Depending on your child’s age, they might be driving or going to college already.
With jobs, schooling, extracurricular activities and other things going on in their lives, many older teens scoff at the idea of having to be on a custody schedule. They don’t feel like children, and, in some ways, are independent enough to make many decisions on their own. Still, as a parent, you do need to set up custody schedules for your teens.
Why? It’s a legal requirement. Until your child is 18, it is required for you to have a custody schedule in place. This custody schedule lets you know where your child is supposed to be and makes sure they have the support and home environment they need to grow up with the necessities close at hand.
Your teen needs a schedule, but how firm does it have to be?
While your teen does need a custody schedule, it doesn’t necessarily have to be extremely structured. You might consider establishing a primary home for them to sleep at night but allow them to decide when they’ll stay overnight with the other parent as long as both parents know. For example, you might be the primary custodian of your child through the week, but if they say they want to stay overnight at the other parent’s house because of a party or event and the other parent is aware they’ll be there, then you could be flexible and allow it.
With younger teens, schedules must be more structured. Know that they likely will speak with the judge to give their opinion on what they want. They may say who they want to live with or state some of their preferences. Both parents may need to have a more structured schedule with a less mature teen than a more mature one.
This is a complex age, but if you and the other parent work together, you’ll be able to figure out a schedule that is in your child’s best interests.