In many family law cases in Ohio, child custody and visitation is a primary concern. This is often pigeonholed as parents in dispute over a child whose age ranges from infancy through middle school. Older children are frequently viewed differently as they are approaching legal adulthood and custody will not be perceived as crucial. Still, there are considerations when a teen is in the age range of 16 to 18 and they will differ from those of younger children. That does not diminish their importance to the parents, nor eliminate the need to serve the child’s best interests. Understanding various issues that frequently arise is imperative.
How to handle child custody and visitation for older teens
The state provides basic guidance to address these concerns. Older teens will not generally need the level of attention younger children will. At age 16 to 18, preparing them for adulthood takes precedence. This includes maintaining a workable school routine, allowing them to take part in extracurricular activities and being involved with their friends regardless of which parent’s home they are in. The parenting schedule should reflect the increasing independence teens in this age group will want to express.
Child custody and visitation templates often have certain times during the week and on weekends when the child will be with one parent or the other. For older teens, it is acceptable and even wise to be flexible, but predictable. It could be useful for the child to know that he or she will be with one parent during the week and the other on weekends; to have certain times during school breaks where he or she will know which parent will have custody and visitation. The teen may express a preference. As with a child custody determination, the child’s preferences can be heard if they are of sufficient maturity to state it. That can be essential with a divorce and the determination for teens 16 to 18.
Even with older teens, legal assistance can be necessary
Regardless of the child’s age, parents will likely want to spend as much time with them as possible and adhere to their needs. This can be the foundation of dispute even with children who need less supervision. To navigate this complex terrain of family law and reach a workable agreement, it could be necessary to have help negotiating or to go to court. From the start of a case, having experienced and professional advice can be important and should not be ignored.