If you divorce when your children are young, custody agreements are typically straightforward and ensure equal time with both parents, including overnights in both households. As children get older, gain independence and take on responsibilities, that custody schedule becomes more challenging.
Here are a couple of tips for child custody modifications and considerations for teenagers.
1. Be flexible
As your child reaches the teen years, their schedule often becomes busier and more demanding. School, sports, extracurricular activities and even after-school jobs can take up a lot of their time. Work with your ex to create a more flexible custody agreement that embraces your teenager’s independence but allows them to travel between both houses equally as their schedule allows. For example, if both parents live in the same school district, the teen can spend an extra night or two during the week with one parent if their schedule makes it harder to see that parent otherwise.
2. Encourage direct communication
More than 80 percent of teenagers have their own cell phones. Encourage open communication between your child and the other parent at all times, allowing your child to call, message or even visit the other parent as their schedule allows. Remember that the teen years are a transition toward adulthood, at which point that relationship needs a solid foundation to sustain it. Allow your child the time and tools to do so.
The teenage years can be challenging for custody and visitation schedules. The goal is to balance your child’s needs with the importance of spending time with both parents.