Setting Up Shared Custody Schedules for Teenagers
Guidelines on how to create a shared custody schedule that reflects a busy teenager's structured and unstructured time. Keep in mind the following information.
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules and parenting plans. You make each part of your schedule, and then you can print your calendar and plan.
A shared custody schedule for teenagers will help separated parents provide consistency, support and one-on-one time with their teenager, who is working toward independence. When you and the other parent must create a custody schedule for teenagers, strive for a balance of freedom and boundaries.
Teenage children should have a custody schedule that promotes their best interests. Factors that determine a successful custody schedule for teenagers include your availability to parent, your ability to communicate with the other parent, your teen's personality and what your teen is involved in.
As separated parents, work to write up a custody schedule for your teenager that you can all abide by. Custody X Change software can provide you with templates to generate a shared custody schedule for children of all ages. If you can create a fair and balanced schedule that puts your child's needs first, the court will usually approve those that are reasonable.
If there are any aspects of the custody schedule you and the other parent cannot agree on, you can meet with a family counselor, mediator or your attorney to get professional assistance. Everyone involved should have the same goal--to structure a custody schedule that best meet their children’s needs.
While all children of divorced parents need a stable and predictable schedule, teenagers have a variety of external activities that require much more flexibility in order to put their needs first. More than younger children, teenagers have a greater capacity for transition, separation from parents and voicing their own opinions.
Some significant parts of a teenager's life that may impact a custody schedule include:
- Increased school involvement
- More homework
- After school classes or hobbies
- Volunteer work
- Sports participation
- Social relationships, such as friends and dating
As teenagers take steps toward independence, supportive parents can create a shared custody schedule that supports the teen's goals and desires while maintaining structure and stability. Age appropriate boundaries must be set and enforced in both households for your teenager to thrive.
You and the other parent are the ultimate decision-makers when it comes to shared custody schedules for your teenager, but it is entirely appropriate for your teen to offer suggestions on the subject.
Here are some areas where your teenager's input may be valuable to a custody schedule:
- Let your teenager talk with you about his or her schedule, including structured and unstructured time.
- Gain insight into how your teen sees your schedule and the other parent's schedule. Your teen may be fine alone after school but really want parental presence during homework, for example.
- See whether your teenager desires a single full-time residence due to the
growing complexity of their own activities. Some teens don't mind switching back and forth while others feel the need to settle.
- Find out what kind of support your teenager would like to have for activities such a sporting events or performances. There may be different expectations than what you or the other parent think.
- Check whether your teen has a preference to attend a specific school. This may help you and the other parent make a decision about a primary residence for your child.
- Determine if there are any other factors that might influence your teen's ability to thrive in a custody schedule, such as one parent's proximity to the teen's after school job.
Many divorced parents keep a parenting journal with notes about how the custody schedule is working for themselves and their children. This can be a paper journal or an electronic one. One of the important purposes of a parenting journal is to help you figure out what works and what doesn't.
Ultimately, you and the other parent need to create a flexible schedule that meets your teenager's needs. However, this schedule will likely need revision as your teenager's life changes from year to year. As a divorced parent, it's critical that you constantly assess how your teen is coping with the custody schedule.
When you keep a parenting journal, you and the other parent can record the positives and negatives of the current schedule. The notes can help you pinpoint trouble areas and help launch discussions. Custody X Change software provides parents with a simple parenting log that can be compiled into a printable report.
When your family no longer consists of married parents, the shared custody schedule can make holidays and vacations particularly challenging to negotiate.
Holidays and celebrations provide a time for families to strengthen relationships, solidify bonds and step out of normal routines. Teenagers should be exposed to familiar favorites as well as establishing new ways to celebrate.
Holidays should have priority over a normal parenting schedule. It's important for teenagers to participate in family traditions, religious rituals and community events that give your family's holidays a special meaning.
For teenagers, many holidays become more about spending time with their friends, such a Halloween or New Year's Eve. Your teenager may want to spend part of Christmas break with friends or a significant other. You and the other parent can work out which holidays are most likely to be spent with a third party.
It is critical that you and the other parent have clear communication about the custody schedule to allow your teenager some personal freedom without jeopardizing family time. Custody X Change software allows you and the other parent include vacation time in with your normal custody schedule and upload a color-coordinated calendar to your mobile devices.
Vacations are important for families to reconnect and create memories, so they should be a prominent part of a shared custody schedule for your teenager.
Because teenagers can handle long periods of time away from either parent, you can look into scheduling trips that last for more than a few days. For example, your shared custody schedule might include two weeks of vacation time with each parent, taken consecutively or not.
Here are 5 tips about vacations in a custody schedule for teenagers:
- Make sure you and the other parent agree whether the teenager will miss school
- Avoid vacation times that cross over a holiday belonging to the other parent
- Schedule plenty of phone calls with the absent parent
- Agree on the activities the teen can and cannot do during the vacation, such as extreme sports or late curfews
- Plan a day or two of downtime for the teenager to adjust before going back to school