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Do you need a child custody plan for an older teen?

As a parent of a strong, independent teenager, you may not be sure if a custody schedule is really necessary for them. They can drive, go to either parent’s home when they want to, and generally are a responsible individual.

As long as your child is under 18, you will need to set up a custody plan for them. How specific and detailed the plan is will vary based on what you and your ex-spouse believe is necessary.

Why do you need a custody schedule for a 16- or 17-year-old child?

Despite the fact that your child may be independent, they still need to be accounted for. You and the other parent should be able to know where they are and what they’re doing. As a minor, they are entitled to your support in the form of the necessities, like shelter, food and education.

It may not be necessary for you to have a detailed custody plan or parenting plan, but you should still put one in place. The simplest idea would be to set up a weekly plan where your child returns to one home each week before switching to the other. You might also try a bi-weekly or monthly schedule.

For teenagers who want to have the freedom to go between homes, you may set up a custody schedule with flexible days, asking them to stay at one home three days a week and the other four. You may also have communication requirements, so you and the other parent know where your child is in the evenings or overnight.

How can you get your teenager to agree to a custody schedule?

It can be harder to set up custody schedules with your teen in mind, but it’s possible to come up with a schedule that they’ll adhere to. Remember, you and your ex-spouse are in control of the final schedule, but you may want to ask your teen’s input. They may have a few good ideas about schedules that would work best based on their extracurricular activities or have a preference for which home they’re in because of where their friends or family members are concentrated in the community.

This can be a frustrating time as you work out a schedule that works best for all involved, but it is possible to have that conversation and come up with one that you can all agree on.