When parents in Georgia divorce, a top priority is working out issues surrounding custody and support for their children. When one or all of the children are teenagers, some issues can become more complex. It’s important for parents to be aware of a teenager’s unique developmental issues while working out visitation plans and other ways to adjust to the divorce.
The teen years are often tumultuous. Hormonal changes affect both the bodies and minds of adolescents. Teenagers are often moody and face intense social pressure at school — all this while preparing to become independent adults. While a teenager may have a better understanding of the reasons for divorce than a younger child, this does not mean that teens may not have strong feelings regarding the disruption that the end of a marriage brings.
In addition to coping with a teen’s sense of betrayal and grief, parents should also prepare for the possibility that teenagers may attempt to manipulate the family situation to their own advantage. Even if a divorce is acrimonious, it is important for parents to find ways to speak directly to each other and not rely on teenagers to transmit messages regarding family situations, schedules or other issues. Doing so puts undue pressure on the teen and can lead to serious misunderstandings.
Issues surrounding visitation and parenting time can also be complex. Teenagers often have busy schedules and want to spend time with friends. This can make rigid visitation scheduling unwieldy, leading to frustration and conflict.
A parent who is considering divorce and concerned about their teenager may benefit from consulting with a family law attorney. The lawyer could review the circumstances of the case and make recommendations regarding visitation, child support obligations and communication plans.