Child custody plans for older children.
Child custody agreements can be complicated, especially when deciding the best option for older children, whether you have recently divorced or have been divorced for a few years. Older children may need a custody plan that differs from younger children because they may have specific activities, wishes, or thoughts on what works best for them as they get older. For example, a child may start expressing a desire to live with the other parent. Also, a child custody plan that works when your child is young may not necessarily work for them as they age. It is typical for child custody plans and visitation schedules to change as children grow older. Therefore, it is beneficial to create a child custody plan for older children and revisit your co-parenting plan each year to ensure it meets the needs of your growing children.
At what age in Texas can a child decide to live with a parent?
Texas law allows the judge to interview a child who is 12 years or older concerning custody. However, some requirements need to be followed, including typically a meeting with a judge with the child to ensure that although the child may have the desire to live with another parent, it needs to make sense and not affect the child’s life. The judge will consider the following;
- travel for visitation
- location of the other parent
- extracurricular activities
- child’s schedule
Additionally, a judge will also consider;
- the parent’s wishes
- the current custody agreement
- parent’s relationship with the child
- whether each parent is mentally and physically fit to care for children
- the mental and physical health of the children
- parents’ participation in the child’s life
- work schedule and can provide for the child
Typically a judge will interview the child if the parents disagree on who should have physical custody. During the interview, the court has discretion on whether to allow the parties’ lawyers to be present during the interview or not. In addition, the divorcing spouses or divorced co-parents are permitted to request the court to record the interview with the child. If the court agrees to this request, a court reporter will transcribe the discussion in the chambers as the interview takes place.
Creating child custody plans for older children.
As children get older, their schedules become busy with school and seeing friends, sports, and other extracurricular activities. So, it might be best for your family to create a child custody schedule that works around your child’s lifestyle and activities. Parents are busy as well, so you want to avoid having a schedule that becomes inconvenient and difficult for both parents to manage. However, as a child gets older, they become more flexible and can tolerate extended periods away from each parent, and they can switch off between households through the weeks. It all depends on what works best for you as individuals and as a family.
Also, you and your ex-spouse may live in entirely different locations. As a child get older, it might be an option for a child to live with one parent during the school year and the other for entire school breaks. There can also become a point where the child feels confident enough to travel alone. At this time, you might need to make adjustments and create a new child custody plan for older children.
Child custody plans for older children do change, and that is ok.
As mentioned above, as a child continues to get older, there may even be a time when they ask for changes to be made to their child custody agreement. For example, they may want to decide when to see a parent, which parent they want to live with, and how much time they spend with each parent. They are entitled to be heard and give their reasons for wanting a change.
Although these changes can be difficult and even hard to hear, it is essential to remember not to react to your child’s decisions. You want to keep their best interests in mind and continue a healthy relationship with both parents. As your child gets older, it is also vital that you do not stop communicating with your co-parent. Even older children becoming more independent still need consistency in parenting, including setting rules and boundaries. It is crucial as co-parents to maintain being on the same page about things such as behaviors, curfews, the places your children can go alone, their education, etc.
Our Texas family law firm can help with your older child’s custody agreement.
Your Texas Family Law attorney should work alongside you to create a child custody agreement that not only has the child’s best interest but is there to guide you through what is best for you and your new future.
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