When you have an older child who has an opinion about your divorce, one of the things you may consider is allowing them to have some say in their custody schedule. Young teens and young adults may be frustrated or annoyed about the divorce. They could be struggling to process what this means for their family unit as well.
Many parents are aware that a court will listen to their children’s custody preferences. There isn’t a set age limit at which your child can decide where they’d like to live, but the judge will listen to their opinion if they are mature enough to express it. If you’re concerned about what they may say or do in court, one option may be to sit down with your child and the other parent to discuss a custody plan as a group.
Giving children some control can help during a divorce
If your child is having trouble adapting to the idea of a divorce, it’s smart to think about ways to involve them in a positive way. For example, you may have a general custody plan arranged, but if there are a few parts of that plan that your child could freely make decisions on, then they may feel more in control of what’s happening.
For instance, if you tell them that you need to have custody of them from Monday through Wednesday and that they’ll definitely see the other parent on Saturday and Sunday, then you could give them an opportunity to help work out what happens on Thursday and Friday. Whether that’s selecting a third party to stay with while you and the other parent work or agreeing to a babysitter, getting your child onboard with the custody schedule can be a great help in having them adjust to all the changes that are happening.
Your child’s best interests must come first. They don’t get the final say in any custody arrangements. However, it is reasonable to include them in the conversation if they are old enough to make mature decisions about their care and to request a situation that makes them feel more comfortable.