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Robin Jill Schneider Robin Jill Schneider
New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Attorney

What if my child wants a new custody plan?

Once a New Jersey judge signs off on your custody arrangements, you may breathe a sigh of relief that such a painful and messy affair is over and done. Enjoy the relief while it lasts, because custody is likely to be an ongoing issue in the aftermath of a divorce, according to Psychology Today.

Many parents—and judges too—feel children should be heard in custody decisions if they are old enough to understand. Certainly, one of the benefits of shared custody is that children receive much-needed reassurance that both parents continue to love them. However, whether or not your children have input into the initial arrangement, you can expect their feelings to change as they grow older.

When children near puberty, they generally begin to become more active socially. They start to develop adult identities and begin making decisions for themselves. Wanting more control over their environment, including where they live, is an understandable emotion coming from children of divorced parents.

During this same period, their load of homework grows, and they typically become more interested in extracurricular activities that can run the gamut, from sports to music, dance and theater. With these new interests, they are likely to need special clothes, equipment, instruments and other items, which makes moving back and forth between two homes more difficult. If your child begins acting out, it may signal that he or she resents the situation and wants to make one parent’s house a more permanent residence.

Experts suggest that parents keep their own feelings and egos out of the matter and remember that their children had no say in the divorce. The best action you can take is to give your children the freedom and space to express their feelings. Never stop talking to them, and be open to trying new living arrangements, which can mean rotating homes in weekly or bi-monthly intervals instead of every few days, which is less disruptive for them. Whether or not you need to revisit custody as a legal arrangement is something you should review with your attorney when and if the time comes.

This article contains general information that is not intended as legal advice.

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