Teen Custody Considerations and Legal Realities in New Jersey

Parenting Teens During Custody Battles Means Considering Evolving Legal and Emotional Dynamics, With Courts Placing Increasing Weight on a Teen’s Preferences

Teen Custody Challenges and Strategies for New Jersey Parents It is common knowledge that parenting teenagers brings a whole new set of challenges for parents. When you are parenting teens during a custody battle or even a cordial shared custody arrangement, some changing legal considerations, complex family dynamics, and emotionally charged conflicts can arise. Most notably, it is not generally until a child is in their teens that the court will consider the preference of the child in custody decisions. While a teen’s preference is not the only deciding factor, nor is it more significant than the court’s view of what is in the best interest of that teen, it is increasingly important in custody determinations as a child enters their teen years. It is imperative for parents to understand how their teen’s own schedule, needs, and preferences influence custody decisions as their children age.

Legal Considerations in NJ Teens’ Custody Preferences

Depending on what preference your teen expresses in regard to custody and living arrangements, you might be pleased that the court will place increasing weight on who your child desires to live with or you might be upset and concerned. We all remember being a teenager ourselves and most of us, if we are honest, can admit that the calculus that went into our decision making as teens was not always backed by wisdom, but often fueled by emotion. On the other hand, teens generally have better insight into where they feel most comfortable and supported than any other party involved.

One major factor influencing a teen’s custody preference may be their relationship and ability to communicate with a particular parent. Strong relationships do not form overnight. Nurturing an enduring bond with your child far before they enter their teen years is important. In light of a teen’s custody preference becoming a factor that the court will consider in custody determinations, some parents may seek to influence the situation by ingratiating themselves to their teens. However, remember that your primary role is as a parent—a steady figure in your child’s life who provides for their physical and emotional well-being.

Other times, a child’s custody preference is not as personal as it feels. One parent’s proximity to the teen’s school, friends, place of work, and extracurriculars will often take precedence over another parent’s home that is much further away from their social life and events.

Finally, as a child becomes a teenager and progresses through their teen years, their desire for autonomy and independence from their parents increases profoundly. An older teen might be inclined, therefore, to express a preference for living with the parent that they perceive allows them more freedom. However, before parents rush to grant their teen limitless freedom in an attempt to sway their child’s preference, they should remember that the court will still prioritize the best interests of the child above the teen’s personal preferences and that requires parents to act in the best interests of their child by granting and limiting their freedoms appropriately.

Mitigating the Impact of the Guilt Trap in Custody Preferences

Divorce and custody disputes are hard enough on children before adding in the fear of letting one parent down or, worse yet, breaking a parent’s heart by expressing their preference to live primarily with the other parent. Sharing their feelings and preferences with parents and the court can be an emotionally taxing experience for kids, so much so that they may choose to avoid expressing their position entirely. Parents should encourage their children to express their preferences and reassure them that communicating openly about their feelings will not cause either parent to harbor any hard feelings towards the teen or their other parent.

Addressing Logistical Complexities in Custody Sharing for Older Teens

Lawyer for Custody Issues with Teens in Freehold NJ Beyond a teenager’s preference in their living situation, the logistical dynamics of custody sharing can become more complicated as a teenager goes through the natural progression of individualizing from their family by getting a part-time job, participating in extracurricular activities with demanding schedules, and wanting to spend more time with their friends. Whereas it is parents who are primarily responsible for complying with custody orders when younger children are involved, older teenagers not only have their own strong opinions, but they often have a driver’s license too.

Sometimes, a teen may refuse to comply with custody arrangements. What can be done when a teen firmly refuses to reside at the home of their parent who has primary custody or when they refuse to visit their other parent during court-ordered visitation time? In these situations, it is critical to keep lines of communication open between you and your teen. Even when your teen may seem like they are pushing you away, deep down, they typically desire for you to pursue them and to know that you love them unconditionally.

Understanding the reasons behind your teen’s non-compliance can also help the family as a whole develop a plan to mitigate the struggles, reduce conflict, and find a solution that works best for everyone. If a family cannot arrive at a good solution on their own, they might need the help of a mediator.

A teen’s preference about which parent to live with primarily may also change as they get older. If they develop a closer friend group or start a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend closer to the parent without current primary custody, they may feel very strongly about changing the family’s custody arrangements.

Let Us Provide Experienced Legal Counsel for Your Teenager Custody and Visitation Issues in New Jersey

Navigating child custody disputes and arrangements with older teenagers sometimes requires the assistance of a skilled family law attorney. Our firm’s founder, Peter J Bronzino, Esq., can help guide you through mediation and negotiation to reach a solution that serves the child’s best interests while considering their preferences. If you need to petition for a court order or modify an existing court order for custody, our family law firm can represent you in court and present evidence to effectively support your position and persuade the court.

To set up a complimentary consultation with an experienced family law attorney at our Brick or Sea Girt offices, contact us today at (732) 812-3102. We represent clients across Monmouth and Ocean County, such as Neptune, Brielle, Sea Girt, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Manasquan, Spring Lake, and Wall.