Any parent of a teenager can tell you that teenagers bring special challenges. They can be moody, difficult, headstrong. When parents are divorcing, a parenting plan will need to be created for any child under age eighteen. However, a parenting schedule for a teenager requires a different set of considerations than one for a toddler.

Parents in a divorce often ask what is an appropriate age for a child to decide where he or she wants to live. The simple answer to this is they can decide once they are no longer a child. One legal standard the court uses is to consider the “reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.” If a child is sufficiently mature to express a preference, the court will take the child’s preference into account. The older and more mature the child, the more likely it is that the court will give the child’s preference significant weight. It probably makes some sense to consider these factors as you work through custody and parenting time in your Diyvorce.

As you create a parenting schedule for a teenager, keep several things in mind. First, teenagers are likely to have a large variety of social commitments and extracurricular activities that are very important to them. Of course, those commitments probably won’t always neatly coincide with your parenting schedule. Your parenting plan will need to offer a fair amount of flexibility to make sure the child can still attend important events.

Next, you should consider the child’s preferences when it comes to the schedule. Your teens likely value their time with friends (that may be an understatement) as well as developing their own independence. Making a parenting schedule will probably go easier if your teen feels included in the decision.

Finally, parents need to remember that teenagers are still children. They still need parental oversight and guidance. The parenting schedule should strike the delicate balance between independence for the child and time with parents.

Creating a schedule that is tailor-made for your teenager can be a difficult task. Register today to gain access to additional information and assistance with these challenges.