Child custody can be a contentious issue, but if you have an older child, it can be even more conflicted. You and your ex-spouse might have your own opinions about custody schedules and what would work, but your teen might have something to say, too.
In Minnesota, there’s no particular age at which your child will get to decide with whom they want to live. However, if they’re already old enough to drive or are getting close to it, then you may want to include them in this discussion.
What can you do if your older child wants to make their own custody schedule?
The reality is that they do not have a right to make their own schedule. You and your ex-spouse are the only people who can decide what schedule works. However, you should consider your child’s input, especially if the changes would be beneficial for them.
For example, if you had suggested having your child live with you and visit the other parent on the weekends but they would rather live with the other parent during the week, that’s going to cause a big problem. Sit down and talk about your reasoning and listen to theirs. Maybe they want to be closer to a friend or school. Maybe you are home, so you’d rather have your child with you instead of at their other parent’s house while their dad or mom is at work.
Involving your child in the discussion can help if they seem to be at odds with you and your ex-spouse about the custody plan you’re putting together. They may even bring up factors that you had not considered.
Remember your child’s age and how long this arrangement may last
At this age, most children will only be in the house for around two or three more years. They have the potential to drive and to completely verbalize their approval or disapproval of a plan. Including them and giving them some freedom may help make your custody schedule work better in the long-term, so that they can spend their last few years at home in a happier, more comfortable situation.