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Do you need a parenting plan for custody of your teenager?

If you are a parent of a teen and are contemplating or in the throes of a divorce in Oklahoma, one thing you will need is an effective parenting plan if you will be sharing custody of your teen with the other parent.

Keep it flexible

It's important that the parenting plan you draft is flexible enough to reflect the teen's own busy schedule of school, sports, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs and social interactions with peers.

Kids age 13 to 17 may act aloof or unaffected by the divorce, but teens still need both parents to nurture, guide and support them, especially during a divorce. The custody schedule should ideally provide both parents with access to their teen so they remain engaged and involved in their daily lives.

If a parenting plan is too restrictive, the Oklahoma family law judge presiding over your divorce and custody action may reject it and send the parents to mediation to work it out. The courts are required to make decisions based on children's best interests, which generally include time with both parents unless there are serious barriers affecting custody, e.g., history of addiction or abuse, etc.

Allow teens time with their friends

If you want to pave the way for a harmonious relationship with your teenager, ensure that the custody agreement you pursue allows your son or daughter sufficient time to spend with friends while in the custody of both parents. You don't want to set up a situation where your teen feels like time spent with one parent is a punishment because he or she has no access to friends.

It's also important to honor the commitments your teenager has made to employers or coaches and teammates. It's not fair for one parent not to accommodate the work or practice and game day schedule of their active teen.

A defined plan is best

Because teens need flexible schedules, you may be tempted to forego a formal plan. This can be problematic, as with no orders signed by the judge, parents have no legal recourse if their teen gets miffed and cuts off visitation.

A Norman family law attorney can give you legal guidance and advice regarding your divorce and custody matters.

Source: Custody Xchange, "Teenager Parenting Plans and Custody Schedules (13-18 years)," accessed Oct. 06, 2017

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