You and your spouse are getting a divorce, and you know that it’s going to be a little difficult for your child to get used to. Fortunately, they’re already 15, and they’ll only have a few years of custody arrangements to work through before they go off to college.
You know that your child is going to have an opinion about the custody arrangements since they’re nearly old enough to drive. You and your spouse have discussed allowing them to make their own schedule, but is that a good idea?
If you are making a parenting plan for a teenager, you may want to work with them to set a schedule up. Teens are starting to become more independent, and they may have different activities or relationships to explore. They often want to spend time with friends and peers instead of their parents or families, so it makes sense that they would want to have a say in where they live on each day of the week.
Consider your teen’s preferences when you decide on custody
It is a good idea to consider your teen’s preferences when you start thinking about custody arrangements. They may point out factors that you hadn’t thought about and need to consider.
Here’s an example. If your teen helps with their schedule, they may point out that staying with dad during the week means that they can walk to school. They might have a lunch break and be close enough to your work to stop by daily to visit. They may have practice for a sport or friends they see on certain days. Listen to everything they have to say before working out a schedule that seems fair.
Since your teen is nearly old enough to drive, you may want to put together a plan with more flexibility. You need to have good communication about staying in touch with each parent and discussing where they’ll be staying each night. You all need to decide on curfews, dating, driving and other factors.
Initially, you and your spouse may find it’s easier to set a basic schedule for where your child is supposed to stay at night, but if that schedule isn’t working out, you can always submit a request to change the custody plan later or leave it up to your teen to decide on where they’ll be, so long as there is good, open communication.