You waited to look into divorcing your spouse until your children were in their mid-to-late teens. As a result, your children both know how to drive and can do so freely.
At 16 and 17, neither of them has many years left under a custody schedule, so you’re not sure that you really need one. After all, they can drive to either parent’s home, and they can, for the most part, take care of themselves independently.
Do you really need a custody schedule for them?
Your teenagers do need a custody schedule
Even if your teens are old enough to drive between your home and your ex’s home, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need a custody schedule. Having a custody schedule is about more than just making sure you get time with your child.
A good custody schedule makes sure that you know where your teen is. You can look at the schedule and say, “they should be at my house tonight,” or “They’re with their other parent today.” You’ll know if you need to be at home to help with schoolwork or to monitor them when they have friends over.
While teens are old enough to go between homes freely, having a basic custody schedule is important. It gives you peace of mind knowing where they’ll be and allows you and the other parent to determine where their primary home should be. This makes it less likely that a teen can “sneak around” or go to the other parent’s home when they’re unhappy with the other one. Instead, they’ll be asked to stick with the schedule that was given.
Flexibility and teen custody
All that aside, teens do well with flexibility. They may want to plan to go to a college overnight to see the campus or plan to stay at a friend’s house. They might want to go over to see the other parent because of schoolwork or an activity that they have in mind. Since they can drive, allowing that flexibility is important. At the same time, your teens should still go back to the appropriate homes at night or stay in good communication with both parents about where they’ll be.