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Modifying child custody as children enter their teenage years

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Divorce & Family Law

As children grow into teenagers, their needs, interests and schedules change significantly.

These changes can make it necessary to modify existing child custody arrangements to better suit the evolving needs of teenagers and to support their development into adulthood.

Spotting the need for adjustments

Teenagers take on new responsibilities and activities like sports, part-time jobs, and spending time with friends, which might conflict with the original custody schedule. When these new activities impact their daily routines, it might be time to consider changing the custody agreement.

Talking to teenagers about custody changes

Teens are at an age where they want more control over their lives, including where they live and how they spend their time. It is important to listen to their thoughts and feelings when planning any changes to custody arrangements.

What courts consider in custody changes for teens

When parents request changes to custody for a teenager, the court looks at several things. These include the teen’s age, how mature they are and their own choices, if they are old enough to make sensible decisions. The court also checks how well each parent can meet the teen’s needs now, how the custody change might affect the teen’s school and social life, and how each parent is managing their responsibilities.

Keeping the new plan flexible

Custody plans for teens should be flexible because their lives can change quickly. Agreements that allow for changes in visitation or last-minute plans can help keep life stable for the teen while respecting their growing need for independence.

Legal steps to change custody

To start changing a custody agreement, one must show that substantial changes in life have made the old agreement unworkable or insufficient to meet the teen’s needs. This usually means going through legal processes like filing petitions, showing evidence and maybe even going through mediation to agree on a new plan.

Changing custody agreements as kids grow into teens requires careful thought about the child’s current and future needs. By focusing on what is best for the teen, parents can help ensure their child grows up to be a healthy and happy adult.