When you and your spouse sat down to discuss your divorce, one of the main topics you were concerned about was how to divide your children’s time between homes and how to make sure they get all they need.
You have two older teens, one being 15 and another 17, so you know that they are largely independent and can make decisions about what they want. They both understand what’s going to happen, and they may have their own preferences.
As parents, how can you handle child custody when it involves teens? Should you let them choose where to live? Do you need a custody schedule?
Choosing a custody plan for your teenagers
The first thing to understand is that teenagers have a right to state their preferences, but they’re still minors. That means that you and the other parent will need to have a custody schedule. The schedule doesn’t necessarily have to be extremely strict, but it does need to go over the basics. You need to know where your child will be each night, what to do in an emergency, how flexible the schedule is and other information.
Should you involve your children in the custody planning process?
Since your children are teens, it does make sense to include them in the decision-making process. Let them talk to you about what they think would work or why they’d like to live primarily with one parent over the other.
For example, your 15-year-old child might want to stay with you since your home is closer to the school, but your older teen may prefer living with the other parent and being closer to their workplace and the college they’d like to attend.
Having a discussion will let you understand your children’s trains of thought and give you an opportunity to develop a custody plan that they are happy with and that you and the other parent can stick to. With everyone involved in the divorce on the same page, you may be able to reduce conflicts and make it easier for your children to adjust in the coming weeks and months.