In the best of worlds, the teenage years present new challenges for all parents. These are years rich with change, new interests, conflicting objectives, strained schedules – and often extraordinary and unanticipated expenses for automobiles, sports camps, proms, overseas travel and college visits – to name a few! Summers can be particularly challenging with the usual rush of new activities and less structured time. For divorced parents and blended families these developments can increase conflict and stress, but this can be avoided with awareness and addressing any uncertainties with your co-parent in advance.
What are some helpful tips?
1.) Start with the right attitude. Absent unusual circumstances, both parents should actively participate in their teenager’s life because teens need guidance and nurturing. Parents should therefore commit to cooperation and flexibility with each other for the teen’s benefit.
2.) How does your parenting plan address scheduling and related issues? Your current plan may work quite well particularly if it anticipates the specific challenges of your teen’s life. However, no matter how well it’s written, no plan can specifically address all of the moving parts of a teen’s life including even relatively mundane matters, like curfews, dating and driving. It’s important that parents and their teens regularly discuss upcoming events, activities and objectives to address conflicts with existing scheduling, including how they may conflict with existing parenting time. Sometimes parents reach an impasse on certain issues. If so, follow your plan’s conflict resolution procedures. If it’s silent, consult with a professional, such as a mediator experienced in co-parenting issues, or an attorney similarly skilled.
3.) Who pays? Marital termination agreements (“MTA”) often allocate expenses for extracurricular and similar activities. What does your MTA say? But MTAs rarely resolve these issues entirely, requiring parents to resolve cost issues that are not addressed. These issues can be addressed with more ease if done in advance of registration for the activity. Again, communication and flexibility are critical, but if you reach impasse about your obligations, review the conflict resolution provisions.
Conclusion: Co-parenting teenagers presents special challenges which require thoughtful parenting agreements and marital termination agreements. At Kathleen M. Newman + Associates, our attorneys are experienced in dealing with these issues and helping clients find resolution. Please contact us to schedule a consultation and learn more about our services..
“10 Do’s and Don’ts of Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce,” Mediate Everything Mediation.com, by Dr. Diane Kramer (Divorce Mediator, Psychologist and Co-Parenting Expert) (October 2018).
“Developing Co-Parenting Plans: The Organization of Cooperative Parenting Schedules,” Psychology Today, by Edward Kruk, Ph.D., (October 24, 2015). “What Makes for Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce?” Psychology Today, by Edward Kruk, Ph.D., (November 10, 2014).