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Divorce, custody, and co-parenting are not without their challenges. When your children are younger, it is easier to create parenting plans and execute them. However, once your child is a teenager with vocal opinions and an active social and educational life with extracurricular activities, like sports and clubs, it may be difficult to put your desired parenting plan into place without your teenage child’s input. While the parenting plan and custodial time sharing are the parents’ decisions to make, you will find that a little bit of buy-in and perspective can save everyone arguments and headaches in the future.

Where to Start With Your Teenage Parenting Plan Post Divorce

It’s important for parents to listen to their teenager’s concerns about how time-sharing will impact their life and schedule. Here are some tips for where and how to approach the conversation.

  • Work Cooperatively: The first step may be the most difficult for newly divorced couples. Working cooperatively is the opposite of being divorced and doing things on your own again. You should start your teenager-friendly parenting plan with a joint strategy session with all involved parties. While you may want to meet individually with the child to discuss how things will happen at your new home separate from your ex, this is a mistake. Everyone needs to participate in the creation of the plan if there is hope for success. One parent and the child cannot tell the other parent how they’d like things to proceed. Everyone should be represented and considered.
  • Remain Flexible: Most teenagers have busy and active lives. They have activities and social lives that may or may not fit with the time-sharing plan you’ve envisaged. Your teen may want to alternate between homes each weekend or spend a certain number of weekends per month with a parent and change it according to their schedule. The key is to remain flexible and realize that your plan needs to be written in pencil. Creating a flexible plan that honors the spirit of the custody agreement and your child's needs means everyone wins.
  • Rules Supersede Households: Your teenager is a smart person. If one parent has easy-going rules and the other is strict and disciplined, your parenting plan will be a mess. The plan should respect both parents’ rules for the teenager, so they realize that moving between homes doesn’t mean moving between rules. The location of the child may change, but the goal of a parenting plan is to create a strategy for parenting a child separately in two different households. You can’t do this if the rules for your teenager sow the seeds of division between parent and child.

Helping Parents Reach Cooperative Child Custody Solutions

You can work with your teen and ex to make sure you walk away with the best plan for everyone. Plus, it’s important to remember the custody agreement and parenting plan are not the same. Your parenting plan can change as much as you need as long as it honors the spirit of your custody agreement. Your teen should be part of the conversation, and you and your ex can determine how much weight to give their wishes. Our child custody lawyers can help you find creative ways to settle any time-sharing or parenting plan issues you may be encountering. Call us today at (305) 783-3301 to schedule a consultation, or you can use our online contact form to request more information.