Any spouse knows that parenting a teenager is often one of the most difficult challenges in a marriage under normal circumstances, but getting a divorce will create a whole new set of issues that can take the challenges to another level.
While you are going through the California divorce process, reaching a mutual agreement with your spouse on visitation time is normally difficult. As parents know, most teenagers are primarily focused on:
- their friends,
- social media,
- exerting independence,
- finding a girlfriend/boyfriend, and
Spending time with their parents is taken for granted and not at the top of their priority list.
However, most parents who are getting a divorce have visitation time with their teenager at the top of their priority list and seeks ways to maintain their relationship with their child.
The first step is to write up a proposed parenting plan, either on your own or with the other parent, before you decide to work with a California family law lawyer to create one.
To give readers a better understanding about teenager visitation plans in a California divorce, our Los Angeles family law lawyers are providing a detailed review below.
How Can a Parenting Plan Help My Teenager?
A parenting plan can significantly help your teenager have a more stable life as they deal with all the changes that happen in a divorce.
When both parents remain friendly and cooperative with each other on crucial issues like visitation, then it will clearly be in the best interest of your child.
When parents get together and create a detailed parenting plan for their teenager, it will reduce stress and keep family court time to a minimum.
This will allow you to primarily focus of your teenager, rather than arguing or negotiating with the other parent over visitation time.
Clearly, reaching a mutual agreement with your spouse about child visitation time is far better than forcing a judge to make the decision for you.
Detailed parenting plan
Important elements in a parenting plan for your teenager should include schedules and the responsibilities of each parent:
- financial responsibilities of each parent;
- visitation schedule of each parent, including birthdays and holidays;
- transportation responsibilities, such as school or work;
- who is responsible for taking teenage to doctor or dentist;
- how to communicate with other parent on issues with their teenager;
- how to make mutual agreements on changing current parenting plan;
- who makes decisions on teenager's extracurricular activities, such as sports.
Clearly, a parenting plan for a teenager is much different than a plan for younger children as they often have commitments and relationships outside the home.
Tips for a Teenager Visitation Plan
The teenage years of your child are crucial for their future. While they are working to become independent, they still need support and a role model in spite of what they might tell you.
In order to create a parental visitation plan with your teenager, here are some useful tips to keep in mind:
- communication with teenager and other parent is crucial – as you know, teenagers love new technology for their cell phone that includes quick and frequent text messages. Take advantage of it. In spite of how you normally like to talk, keeping an open channel with your child and ex-spouse is absolutely an essential part of a visitation plan that will work best for everyone.
- flexibility – if you have a visitation plan that is restrictive to your teenager's ability to participate in what's important to them, then you are setting yourself for failure. Their friends, school activates, and dating are important for a teenager. Create your visitation plan that is flexible around their life while understanding their priorities.
- cooperation with ex-spouse – regardless of the what happened to your marriage and current child custody arrangement, you need to find a way to remain on friendly terms with your ex-spouse. Work in cooperation with them to plan and adjust visitation plan as needed and always be willing to work out an agreement on your own without family court intervention.
Keep in mind your teenager needs both parents. Work out a parental visitation plan that is in the best interest on your child.
Visitation and Shared Custody for Older Teenagers
As parents know, as your child grows up and becomes an older teenager, they will often start a part-time job and start filling out applications for college.
Clearly, your duties as a parent will change as they get older, but you still need to help them by making modifications to your visitation plan. In other words, now that your teenager's priorities have changed, you need to be flexible.
Parents who have shared custody of an older teenager need to work out a living arrangement around their activities and schedule while remaining flexible for changing the plan. Older teenagers often don't want to spend a lot of time at home, but rather focus on:
- social life;
- their freedom;
- their job;
- college plans.
This means your shared custody plan and visitation should be designed to provide them sufficient time to participate in the activities that matter to them.
You should not expect them to spend all their limited free time with you. This is not to suggest your older teenager no longer has any desire to spend time with their parents, rather it's a normal change in priorities.
Older Teenagers Still Need Your Guidance
You need to remember that your teenager is going through the same process as all other teenagers – they are entering the early stages of becoming an adult.
At this critical point in their life, your support and guidance is absolutely essential. While they might give the appearance of not needing any directions, they need you to listen to them.
Make a reasonable effort to not constantly criticize their music, clothes, and the friends they hang out with, rather focus on:
- maintain a support role in their life;
- allow them reasonable amount of freedom;
- encourage communication with you so they will be willing to talk about their issues.
Both parents always need to be open and willing to discuss their plans for college, career, work, and social activities. Also, keep the conservation respectful and always keep in mind their best interest.
You should not take it personally if your older teenager wants to spend most of their time at the other parent's house. It benefits your entire family when you are flexible and understanding to their needs.
If your older teenager is spending time at the other parent's home, be sure to still show up at their activities as a show of support.
Family Law Lawyers for California Child Custody Issues
If you need information about child custody issues in California, including teenagers, contact our Los Angeles family law attorneys to review the details of your situation.
Working out a child custody plan without getting a family court involved should always be the goal. Don't force a judge to make a decision that might not be in the best interest of your family.
If you need assistance with working out a fair visitation plan with your teenager, then contact our law firm to learn how we can help you.
Furman & Zavatsky are Los Angeles family law and divorce lawyers representing people throughout Southern California, including Los Angeles County, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Santa Barbara County, Orange County, Ventura County, Riverside, and San Bernardino.
Our office is located in the San Fernando Valley area of LA County at 15821 Ventura Blvd #690 Encino, CA 91436.
Contact our office for a free case evaluation at (818) 528-3471.