Many child custody conversations center around younger children. A mother may argue that she needs to see a 1-year-old more because he or she is still breastfeeding. A father may argue that his 6-year-old needs to have equal time with both parents because these young years are a formative time for their relationship and can build a strong bond for the future.
These are important conversations to have, but it’s also important to remember that many teenagers get caught up in divorce cases. They may need special consideration when parents are deciding how to divide custody.
Age makes a massive difference in custody decisions. Teens may be involved in sports and other activities outside of school. They may drive and have their own cars. They may have part-time jobs or, during the summer months, full-time jobs. They may be very connected to their peer groups and want to make sure that they get to spend time with friends and stay in the same school system.
All teens are different, but you can see how they as a group have vastly different considerations than a toddler or a baby. Not only should the custody plan take that into account, but the plan may need to be adjusted for younger children as they grow up and change. Parents should not assume that what they decide initially is something that is going to work for the rest of the child’s life.
If you and your spouse are getting divorced and you are sorting through all of these complex decisions, make sure you are well aware of the legal options you have.