Custody Considerations For Florida Parents Of Teenagers
It is common knowledge that divorce is often hardest on the children. For infants and toddlers, small children, they may not fully grasp or understand what is happening, only that they are being shuffled between homes if the parents share joint physical custody. For teenagers, the impact is often more profound. Parents might share intimate details about why the marriage is deteriorating, fight in front of teenagers, or argue about who should have primary custody. Because teenagers are more independent but are still children, it is important parents keep things in perspective if contemplating divorce.
Keeping it Civil at Home
As difficult as it might be to avoid arguing in front of the kids, parents should refrain as much as possible. This rule of thumb is applied for children of all ages. Young children might not understand why mom and dad are angry, and may internalize those feelings or blame themselves. Teenagers may try to intervene, or one parent may try to alienate the teenager against the other parent.
In addition, our children often model behavior they see at home. A child living in a high-conflict environment might seek out a high-conflict relationship with a significant other or find an unhealthy outlet for their emotions. Divorce can affect teenagers mentally and emotionally, causing them to do poorly in school or express anger, anxiety or depression. While the thought of divorcing a spouse might be all-consuming, it is important for parents to exercise healthy boundaries and not involve their children in the drama, and also look for signs of an emotional or mental crisis in their child. Often individual or family therapy might be beneficial.
Should You Seek Input from Your Teenager About Custody Preference?
Children under 18 are still minors and therefore under the custody of their parents. In addition, family court judges try to avoid the necessity of a child or teenager testifying in court because it is emotional and often painful or unnecessary to do so. That being said, in Florida, a family court judge may consider the testimony or preference of an older teenager (15+) if they express a clear preference to reside with one parent over the other. It is often not necessary unless custody is contested. In contested hearings, the court will weigh multiple factors in determining custody, but ultimately a decision is made in the best interest of the child. For teenagers seeking independence or preparing to head off to college, it might seem insignificant to argue about a year or less of shared custody time. If that is the case, try to reach a resolution with the other party about a parenting plan you can all agree on.
Call Our Tampa Family Law Attorneys at Bubley & Bubley, P.A.
Here at Bubley & Bubley, P.A., our Tampa divorce attorneys understand the profound effect divorce has on the entire family. For parents of teenagers, it is especially difficult to navigate. Our lawyers are here to assist you every step of the way, whether you wish to mediate issues or are dealing with a volatile ex and contested custody. We assist clients throughout Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties and remain open to serve you. Call today to schedule a consultation.