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Teens and Visitation

If you’ve ever spent time with a teenager, I’m sure that you’ll agree that they have plenty to say on many topics. When it comes to their own custody arrangement, although they may have a strong opinion, how much say do they really have?

The answer is plenty. In Rhode Island, the older the child is, the more consideration most judges will give to the child’s opinion on where they live. Although teenagers are not solely allowed to determine with which parent they are to live with, they will have a strong feeling and have the right to voice this opinion in the appropriate situation. For more information on the roles preteens and teen play in custody agreements, read our blog on the topic.

As a child becomes more independent the time that they spend with each parent is not as clearly defined as when they were young. The lines can become blurred once a child gains independence, especially with the ability to drive on their own. Is it o.k. for a child to stop by a parent’s home to say hello? Grab a bite to eat after football or hockey practice? Who makes this decision?

These are topics that can be addressed in a parenting plan and agreed upon by both parents. A teenager is well on their way to adulthood and the relationships built as a teen will carry forward for many years. It’s important to respect a child’s desires and understand that in a few short years, at the age of 18, the decision-making will be their own on where to spend their available family time.  You want to make sure that when this time comes, your teenager is comfortable sharing their life with both of their parents.

The best approach is to maintain an open line of communication with your teenager. Their safety and well-being is first and most important. If these aspects are covered, then agree upon guidelines for informal visitation that you are both comfortable with and understand.

To explore a parenting plan or custody arrangement, contact a lawyer to discuss your personal situation.