New Jersey parents who are considering getting divorced and are concerned about the challenges of child custody should consider several ways they may be able to improve their teenager's situation. Parenting is wrought with challenges, and it is especially difficult when the parents are living separately. However, by keeping communication open and putting their child first, parents can move forward with their own lives without compromising their teenager's well-being.
First, it is important to remember that a teenager generally has a tendency to want to manipulate situations for his or her own personal gains. For example, a teen might want to participate in risky behavior and experimentation, and he or she might have an easier time doing what he or she wants when the parents are divorced and live apart.
This is especially true when it comes to a teen's friends. Many divorced parents make the mistake of assuming the other parent knows the teen's friends and do not put any effort into getting to know them. In reality, neither parent might know who the teen is hanging out with. Because friends can easily influence teenagers to participate in reckless behavior, it is important for both parents to communicate about the peers their teen is choosing to associate with.
Parents should also remember that they should not stop coordinating with each other when their teen starts driving. It might be tempting to let the teen decide when he or she will go to a parent's house, but if the parents are not communicating and the teen knows this, the teen might go elsewhere without either parent knowing where he or she is.
Parents who believe they may soon file for a divorce should consult an attorney with experience in child custody. A qualified attorney may be able to help parents come up with a plan that is in the best interests of their child and may be able to offer advice on how to co-parent effectively.