Teenagers, Tweenagers, and Child Custody Changes

The tweenage and teenage years are — without a doubt — the most difficult years a parent faces. Your child develops their own identity and their own opinions, and often wants to spend more time with friends or participating in extracurricular activities than they do with family. It is generally a frustrating and emotionally fraught time for everyone involved. 

The child custody agreement that was created when your child was younger may no longer work, or may be very different from whatever arrangement he or she would prefer. Sometimes changes can and should be made to reflect the realities of adolescence. 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes, Turn And Face The Strange

We as a society are becoming more aware of the important learning and character development that occurs before a person reaches the age of 18. And the legal world is slowly catching up. It used to be uncommon for a court to approve changes to a child custody agreement unless a parent’s lifestyle had been significantly altered. Now, courts in the Reading, PA area and beyond are increasingly okay with modifying a plan to better suit the needs of a child as he or she matures. It may also be possible for you and your family to craft an informal agreement that does not need to be approved by the courts. 

The Easy Way

The easy way to make changes to a child custody agreement is for both parents to come together and work out a new plan, with input from their child. Simple, right? Not really. Parenting tweens and teens is hard. Even the best co-parents tend to disagree when topics like dating, driving, and curfews are thrown into the mix. 

Working with an attorney — or multiple attorneys — who can referee the process and help you craft a workable agreement can be very helpful. 

The Hard Way

If your child wants to stop seeing you or their other parent, and both parents are not on board with that decision, things can get dicey. You can attempt to enforce your current agreement in court, or ask the court for a modification, but if you and your ex (and your opinionated offspring) are not on the same page, you may end up in costly and emotionally taxing litigation. Working with an experienced attorney can help you figure out what your options are, and may smooth the process. 

Look To The Future

The fact that your tween or teen has an opinion about where he or she lives is normal. Adults like to control where they live and who they hang out with, and your little one is taking steps in that direction. No matter where your child wants to spend most of his or her time, try to be flexible and remember that the foundation you lay today is what your future relationship with your child will rest on.