Custody And Your Teenagers: Tips For Creating A New Arrangement That Works

According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2012 approximately 28 percent of all children in the United States lived in a single parent home. If you've recently been through a divorce, chances are the most difficult aspect of this process was determining custody. The transition to two households can be very rough on kids – especially if you have teenagers who are accustomed to having both mom and dad around. Here are a few tips to create a dual custody schedule that will work for your teenagers:

Where Do I Go?

If you're in the midst of a bitter divorce and you and your ex-partner are squabbling over every dime, it's vital to put all your differences aside and first create a schedule. The first step is simply determining how long your teenagers should stay in each household.

According to Beverly Bird, a contributor to Legal Zoom, for many families the best arrangement is to share week-by-week custody. For example, the kids will spend Sunday through Saturday with one parent, and Sunday through Saturday with the next. This provides them with a sense of stability, and lessens the confusion that can come with spending a shorter amount of time at each parent's home.

However, if your custody isn't 50/50, it's important to make your teenager's personal and school life the first priority. This could mean insisting your teenager sleep in the same bed each night, or only allowing them to visit the other parent on the weekends.

Whatever you choose, make sure your teenager has a say in where they spend the majority of their time.

Consistency Is Key

Once you've determined the teenager's schedule, it's important to sit down with your spouse to create a solid schedule. This will help your teenager maintain some normalcy and will lessen the confusion that can accompany jumping from one home to the next.

In addition to creating a schedule, and agreeing to stick to it, it's vital each household remains consistent. Here are a few areas where both parents must remain on the same page:

  • Rules – From curfew to chores, it's vital each household have the same rules. If you have two different parenting styles, make sure to compromise on rules you can both abide by. Meeting every few weeks or months to talk about your teen's behavior, and maybe even change the rules, can also help both parties remain consistent.

  • Consequences – Having equal rules won't work very well if you don't also share the same philosophy on punishments. It is crucial the consequences for your teenager's bad decisions or actions is the same at each household. For example, if you have a week on/week off schedule, and your teenager is grounded for two weeks, make sure they are stuck in their bedroom in both households.

  • Rewards – Finally, it's just as important the rewards for good behavior are the same at each household. For instance, if your teenager is given access to a car for bringing home a stellar report card, make sure they are still able to enjoy this privilege at both homes.

Creating a consistent schedule and list of rules and punishments that works for both households can be tricky. If you're having trouble, consider speaking with a therapist or mediator to create a schedule everyone can live with.

Going through a divorce can be devastating, and not just for the adults. If you have teenagers who will be shuffled between two households, it's vital to create custody agreement and schedule that will provide consistency, but is also in their best interest. Visit sites like for more information and assistance from a lawyer.