Your child has lived with you since your divorce, but now they have entered their teen years, and they would prefer to live with their other parent. Their decision may leave you feeling sad or alone, and you may have some concerns regarding your current custody agreement, too. So, how should you proceed? Begin by following these steps.
1. Talk to your lawyer.
Whether or not you have a written custody agreement, it is a good idea to talk to your family attorney about your situation. Tell them that your teen wants to change the custody agreement and see what they recommend. Your current agreement may allow for this change at a certain age. Certain states also specify that after a certain age, a child has the inherent right to choose where they live. After your meeting with the lawyer, you will at least know where you stand and know if letting your teen move homes is a possibility.
2. Talk to your ex.
Before you talk to your child about switching homes, you need to sit down with just your ex and have an in-depth conversation about the situation. Find out if they are on-board with the change. If they are not, you can simply tell your teen "no." If you have concerns about the care your child will receive or the rules they may or may not have to follow in this other home, then discuss those, too. Are there changes your ex is willing to make if your teen moves in on a more full-time basis? Will they expect you to pay them some child support after this change is made?
3. Set your feelings aside, a bit.
If you have real safety concerns about having your child move in with their other parent, that is one thing. If you just fear that you will miss your child or feel jealous of your ex, that's another. This is about what is best for your teen, and sometimes, that may mean giving them the freedom to make this decision. Try, the best you can, to leave your feelings out of your decision.
4. Talk to your teen.
Once you know whether it's legally feasible and whether your ex is on-board, talk to your teen. Discuss the pros and cons of the change to make sure they are making a smart, informed decision. Remind them if the change does not work out, you still love them and will welcome them back.
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