Do my children get a say in the custody arrangements?

This is a tricky question, and I do not believe that there is one right answer.

Obviously the age of the children is the overriding factor. If they are very young their best interests’ is the most important consideration.  However as they get older it is important to listen.

I would NOT suggest that you ask your child what they want. Forcing them into a situation of having to choose between their parents is not fair and will only cause them stress.  In addition you need to be mindful that children may manipulate this situation to get what they want.  Tricky.  They never said parenting would be easy.

As your children get older their schedules will be more important to consider than you own. What are their social obligations?  Do they have band practice or sports?  Do they hang out with friends after school or have a part time job?  Do they stay after school for homework club or for tutoring?

Think about your desires for parenting and balance them with that of your children.  If you and your X live close to each other or you have the ability to chauffeur them around after school it may not make a difference.

One of my clients gave their children the flexibility to go to one parent’s house after school and then be driven to the other parent’s later in the day. This allowed them to go to their school activities and friends houses without any stress.  They did not have to say ‘no’ to hanging out with a friend because they had to go to the other parent’s house.

While it may not be possible for your children to have this type of flexibility it is important to listen to what they are asking and try to make their life as easy as possible.

You also need to balance the need for discipline in all of this. If your children need to be supervised to get their homework done or to keep out of mischief (a favorite pastime for many 11-13 year olds) allowing them full freedom may not be the best plan.

So now that you are completely confused….

My point is thats you need to keep your children’s life as normal as possible.  Try not to let your desires for parenting time be the driving factor in the decision. Consider their needs in the process.

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