Sunday, November 30, 2008

Teenagers and Parenting Time

Thanks to Dick Price and his post Sharing Time with Teenagers for tipping me off to Florida Divorce and Family Law Blog's Sharing Time with Teenagers. Yes, a little confusing having the same title.

Ms. Bauer begins with this:

When Judges impose time sharing for children who are young, these types of rulings are very easily enforced and its likely that the children aren't really given a choice as to whether or not they should visit with one of their parents. With teenagers, this is a much more grey area. Teenagers have busy schedules, often times have anger issues towards one parent, and/or are easily manipulated into feeling a certain way towards one parent. What do you do if your teenager refuses to spend time with you doing your designated days? As a parent, how can you encourage your teenager to spend time with a parent when they say they have no interest in doing so?
Mr. Price adds this:
In addition to the usual stresses between parents going through a divorce, parents of teenagers must deal with a very different environment when they are trying to arrange a visitation schedule for children who are teens.
* The children often don't want to be considered kids (and often shouldn't be).
* They frequently want some role in deciding where they will be and what they will be doing.
* At the same time, they can be very manipulative.
* They also have more and more activities and greater independence, particularly when they drive.
* School work can become more demanding and time consuming, while extra-curricular activities can eat up a lot of their free time.
* One way or another, there often isn't much free time left for teenagers to be around their parents.
Another complicating factor can be changing relationships between parents and children. There often is a lot of conflict and communication problems. To make it worse, if one parent has not been very involved with the children during the marriage, but suddenly, because of a divorce, wants to make up for lost time, children sometimes will not quickly welcome that parent back into their lives. That can create a lot of frustration and conflict for both parent and children, and a court order alone is usually not a good or sufficient solution.
Ms. Bauer proceeds to offer five suggestions that Mr. Price also approves of and discusses. I think these five are very good suggestions and strongly urge following the link above to the original article.

Yet, Ms. Bauer's using the phrase "Judges impose time sharing for children" gives me a wee bit of trouble. Probably just the lawyer brain being a bit too technical. Which still leads me to two points.

As we should know by now, the Indiana Supreme Court created our Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. Yes, the judges need not follow them (being guidelines) and we also have visitation statutes, but the judges will follow them unless we can show a reason for them not doing so. Parents with teenage children need to be aware of the Guidelines as they apply to teenagers which can be accessed by following this link. Reading them is my first point.

My second point tends to the dour. When the judge incorporates the Parenting Time Guidelines into the Decree of Dissolution or Decree of Paternity or a modification order, these can be enforced by the contempt powers of the court. The custodial parent who refuses to follow the Parenting Time Guidelines will find themselves in court and the ultimate penalty for contempt is jail.

Summing up, I strongly urge reading Ms. Bauer's article and the Indiana Parenting Time Guideline's commentary and examples to Parenting Time for the Adolescent and Teenager. Ms. Bauer has some very good suggestions to head off the problem of balky teenagers before a trip to the courthouse. The commentary has little overlap with the Bauer article but does support and enforce its concepts.

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