Every parent can tell you that each stage in a child’s life brings new challenges for the parents. Parents have to work hard to strike a delicate balance between guiding a child through life and being overbearing. As a child reaches the teenage years, this can become especially challenging, as teenagers move toward becoming completely independent and moving on to their own adult lives. During the teenage years, it is common for parents and teenagers to experience conflict as they try to come to a new understanding of their respective roles. If you are going through a custody case or have a custody order already in place, you have some special considerations regarding your teenager that you should keep in mind.
First, teenagers often have their own schedules and activities. At that point in their lives, teenagers often engage in extracurricular activities and want to spend time with their friends. When crafting an order dividing parenting time between you and the other parent, it is important to keep your teenager’s activities in mind. Creating a parenting plan that allows your teenager to continue in the same activities will help minimize the disruption of a divorce or custody action.
Parents also need to keep in mind that a court is likely to take a teenager’s reasonable preference of where he or she wants to reside into account when creating a parenting order. The more mature the child, the more weight the court is likely to give the child’s preference. Contrary to common belief, however, a child cannot unilaterally decide where to live until he or she reaches the age of majority.
It is also common for teenagers and parents to have problems with parenting time even after the court has entered an order. A teenager who is angry with one parent my not want to go with that parent for the court-ordered parenting time, for example. If your teenager is refusing to visit with the other parent, you need to do everything you can to encourage your child to maintain a relationship with the other parent. If you assist your child in cutting the other parent out of his or her life, the court will take a very dim view of this course of action if the other parent seeks assistance from the court.