Divorce can be rough enough on the adults going through it, but it’s often worse for the kids involved. Teenagers, in particular, can be resistant to the changes that are occurring in their lives. They may deeply resent the disruption of a divorce and shared custody when they’re trying to navigate the difficult high school years.

What happens when your teen wants a different custody arrangement than you think is best? There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind:

Parents and judges ultimately decide where a child lives.

Your child’s feelings and preferences regarding their living situation may be taken into account by the court, but your teen is not the person who is ultimately in control of the situation. You and your co-parent can still decide your child’s living situation if you can agree on a parenting plan.

If you can’t work out an agreement with your ex, the judge handling your case will take many different factors into consideration when deciding custody and visitation. If your child’s wishes aren’t really in their best interests, the judge won’t go along with them.

Your teen will be happier with some independence and control.

Even though you bear the responsibility of making certain that your teen is living in a safe, nurturing environment, teens have unique needs that younger children do not. Any custody plan you propose should take into account the following:

  • Your teen may feel better about the custody situation if you allow them to voice their opinions.
  • Teens usually want to spend more time with their peers than their parents, so a good custody plan makes allowances for the teen’s social calendar.
  • Teens often have a lot of activities outside the home, including school events, sports and jobs. Your custody plan should try to accommodate those things.

While younger children can easily adhere to a fairly strict custody and visitation schedule, flexibility is key with teenagers. If your old agreement was made when your child was younger and no longer works as you head into the teenage years, it may be time to revisit the custody and visitation plan.