Divorcing with teenage children is markedly different from divorcing when your children are still young. While there are some advantages – your child will likely be considered old enough to state their child custody preferences – there can also be several challenges. Young children are likely to accept the reality of the divorce without questioning why or passing judgment. Teenagers, however, may blame one parent for the breakdown of the marriage or become emotionally affected by the situation.
This is why it is important that you manage the communication between you and your teenage child before, during and after the divorce process. If you are concerned about approaching the topic of child custody with your teenage child, the following are some tips.
Present a united front
It’s better if you have a conversation about both divorce and child custody along with your divorcing spouse. This shows that you are still willing to work together and care for each other and that the child will not have to choose between their parents.
Make sure that you explain to them how the child custody process works, the part that they can potentially play in it, and the considerations that will be made. You may want to explain that practical issues, such as which school they will go to and how they will manage their schedules, will play a big part in how child custody will be arranged.
Allow them to voice their opinions
Make sure that your teenager feels heard. Give them the opportunity to fully express their thoughts, considerations and wishes. If your child feels like the decision has been made without their consent, they are likely to feel hurt and brushed aside. Therefore, you should attempt to collaborate with them at all times.
If you are going through a divorce and you have teenage children, make sure that you understand exactly how the child custody courts evaluate cases for the benefit of the child.