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Custody Agreements for Teenagers--Effective Parenting Plans

Updated on March 5, 2012

Create a Custody Agreement for Your Teen

Raising a teenager is tough. Boundaries that have always been in place are suddenly being tested. Attitudes need adjusting. Moods swing. Some days, you may feel that the behavior of a teenager is designed so that--once they are ready to leave the nest-- you will gladly hold the door open for them.

As difficult as raising a teenager may be, it is even more challenging when you are a single or divorced parent. Your teen may be hurt or angry because of the divorce. He or she may attempt to take advantage of the lack of parental unity and pit you against each other. One of the keys to managing your teen during this time is to have a strong child custody agreement that you can depend on for support.

When parents make a child custody agreement for teenagers, it is a bit different from a custody agreement for school age children. The agreement will have the same basic principles, such as a good plan in place for decision making and methods for dispute resolution, but the main thing that may be different will be the visitation schedule.

If you’ve been divorced for a while, you may find that the old visitation schedule that you’ve used effectively for years just isn’t working anymore. Why? It is most likely because the old version of the schedule mainly accounted for the availability of the parents. When you have a teenager, you need to consider that they have their own plans and their own schedules, as well.

Teenagers are busy. They have school and extracurricular activities. Homework is time consuming. They may have jobs or do volunteer work. They also have friends and “plans”. Teenagers always seem to be on the go. Even married parents will notice that their teen wants to send more time hanging out with their friends and less and less time with their parents.

Trying to accommodate your teenager’s own schedule in a manner that allows each parent the opportunity to spend a reasonable amount of time with your child may seem impossible. However, if you take the time to carefully consider all of your options, you should be able to come up with something that works. If you create a schedule that provides your child with plenty of time with each of you on a frequent, consistent basis, you should find that your teen will adjust to the changes in a timely manner.

You may also want to consider adding some stipulations into your parenting agreement that address discipline. If your child gets grounded for sneaking out or bad grades at one house will the punishment carry over to the other house? How will you handle various situations? You should work with the other parent to try to establish some ground rules for your teen and stick together when the rules are broken.

It is impossible to predict every set of circumstances and every incident that is going to occur but when you have a good, solid custody agreement, you can at least count on the support of the other parent when things go awry. If you include as much detail as possible in your custody agreement, along with a solid method for changing or modifying the plan, you just might manage to survive the teen years.

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