If your child is in their teens as you divorce, you may not think you need to worry much about their parenting plan. You might think that as long as you detail how you’ll split custody and how you’ll deal with their school breaks and summer vacations, there’s not much more you need to do – especially if your teen is mature and doesn’t need a lot of close supervision.
Nonetheless, even if your teen will be going off to college in a year or two, they still need you. Even if they’re an easy-going, well-adjusted kid, parental divorce can have a significant – and potentially negative – effect on them. Knowing that their parents are working together to parent them consistently across both homes can give them the security they need.
What should a parenting plan for teens include?
The teen years are filled with milestones. They’re learning to drive, getting into their first serious relationships, applying to colleges and taking on new extracurricular activities and maybe their first job. They’ll be exposed to new types of peer pressure around alcohol, drugs and even potentially criminal activity. As they start driving, they’ll likely need a curfew.
This time is always tough for parents as kids test their boundaries. While you and your co-parent won’t agree on everything, it’s crucial to have some shared rules and expectations. It can be easy for teens to take advantage of separated and divorced parents and the fact that they may be overwhelmed and distracted by what’s going on in their own lives
Giving your teen a say in the schedule
As you work out how you’ll share custody of your teen, it can mean a lot to them to have some input. While the schedule will be affected by your and your co-parent’s work and other obligations, don’t forget to check in with your child to try to ensure that you’re not causing them undue inconvenience as they maneuver after-school and weekend activities.
Developing parenting agreements that work for your teen and for both of you and keep you both actively involved in their life will likely be challenging. Having sound legal guidance can make a big difference.