Divorce is complicated in nearly every scenario. Although you may believe that you can split amicably, there are a lot of factors to consider during the divorce process. These conversations often lead to disagreements and roadblocks that make everything harder. When you divorce with kids, there are additional considerations to discuss before the divorce can be finalized. Child custody is one of these considerations.

When most people think of child custody negotiations, they picture small children who need constant care. However, this is not always the case. If you have a teenager under 18 in your home, the court still needs to determine a custody schedule.

If you are negotiating child custody for your teenager, or are navigating a new schedule with them, these tips can help to make the process easier.

Know Your Options

Child custody schedules vary widely and are dependent upon a family’s needs. The four basic categories of child custody that the court may choose are:

  • Shared custody. In this scenario, both parents have guardianship for an equal amount of time.
  • Partial custody. For these agreements, one parent has guardianship most of the time, but the other parent does have the legal right to guardianship for a certain number of days per month.
  • Visitation. This arrangement means that one parent has primary guardianship. However, the other parent has the right to see and interact with their children for a certain number of hours per month.
  • Full custody. One parent has full guardianship rights and the other parent does not have the legal right to see their children at all.

Most courts aim for shared custody, as it allows the children equal access to both of their parents. However, factors like parental schedules, health, living situation, finances, and criminal records can all affect custody.

Talking to Your Teen About Custody

When you are talking to your teenager about their custody plan, it is important to remain empathetic. Many teenagers have a difficult time coping with a parental divorce, but they are also often unprepared to express their emotions. You may be met with anger, frustration, or sadness when you discuss custody.

It is important to be honest with your teenager about the situation. Let them know what the potential outcomes will be and have them consider what they might want to happen. The court focuses on what is best for the children in custody situations. If a child is old enough, their opinion can be considered.

Do not attempt to sway your teenager into a certain type of custody. If your spouse’s attorney finds out that you have done this, they may use that information against you during negotiations.


The teenage years are vastly different from those of their earlier childhood. High school students are usually involved in more activities, have social calendars, and may be dating. As your child’s life changes, changes to your custody agreement may be appropriate. Although custody agreements are legally binding, modifications can be made through the court to adjust to changing circumstances.

For example, suppose you currently share child custody with your spouse. However, you live close to your child’s after-school job while your spouse lives 45 minutes away. It may make sense to change the custody schedule so that your child does not need to travel so far on days that they work. A modification can help to make sure that everyone is on the same page about any changes and that the changes are enforceable through the legal system.


Although it may be difficult to communicate with your child during their teenage years, it is important that you communicate with your child’s other parent during this time. Even if you are divorced, you still need to be on the same page about family rules. Teenagers are easily distracted, and having cohesive rules and expectations at both homes can help your child stay on track.

Talk to your child’s other parent about topics like:

  • Curfew
  • Dating
  • Friends
  • Homework
  • Weekends

Having the same policies at both homes gives your child the best chance of following the rules and staying out of trouble. Although your teenager may scoff or roll their eyes, these kinds of standards are extremely helpful for families with divorced parents.

Do I Need a Child Custody Lawyer?

Whether you have a newborn or a teenager, it is very important that you hire an attorney to represent you during child custody negotiations. Without proper representation, you may not earn any custody at all and have to pay child support.

During child support negotiations, your attorney’s job is to show the court why you are a good parent to your child and why your child would benefit from living with you. Without this, it will be difficult to see why you should have any custody, and the court may give full custody to your child’s other parent. Furthermore, your child’s other parent’s attorney can easily make claims against you in court. If you do not have a way to properly refute these claims, the court may view them as facts, and it could harm your chances of getting custody.

With something as important as child custody, it is important to hire a child custody attorney to represent you. This helps you to achieve an outcome that benefits your family and shows the court that you are serious about having ongoing custody of your children.

Contact Stange Law Firm, PC

Our team has been helping families in the Chicago area and beyond for many years. We understand the challenges and emotions that accompany divorce and child custody negotiations. Although you may be facing a low point in your life, we are here to make sure you have the resources and legal advice to get through it. We have helped hundreds of families to develop child custody arrangements that work for them, and we would be happy to do the same for your family.

For more information about our firm, the services that we offer, or how you can begin to work with us on your child custody agreement, contact Stange Law Firm, PC, online today.