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Divorcing when you have teens at home

Getting a divorce comes with challenges, but the challenges are usually unique to your stage of life. Those who end their marriage with young children have some different concerns than those who split up in their older years.

For those who have teenagers, these are a few of the factors you should be aware of and prepare for.

Children's custody preference

If you have children who are at least 14 years old, they can express to the court their preferences of who they want to live with. This does not mean their choice will be the court's choice, but the judge will consider their wishes. Even those who are below 14 may be able to express their preferences as well if the court deems it to be in the child's best interest.

Extracurricular activities

Teens tend to be involved in more activities (or heavily involved in one) than younger children are. Extracurricular activities require many expenses:

  • Equipment
  • Uniforms
  • Camps
  • Competitions
  • Travel
  • Lessons/practices
  • Fees

These can quickly add up. California does not automatically include these in calculating child support, so you will need to discuss them as part of the process. Will it be the custodial or noncustodial parent, or will you split the cost? Maintaining lifestyle is important to the court, though, so you may receive enough money to continue your children's involvement.

Extracurricular activities can also complicate the parenting schedule, so be sure to cover this topic as well. For example, determine who will be in charge of picking up the children after their activities on the days they switch homes.

College tuition

Another thing to consider is college tuition. Child support in California ends at 18. If the child is still in high school, it ends upon graduation or at 19, depending on which happens first. This means that child support does not cover college tuition. However, you and your ex can decide how you want to split the cost and include the terms in the agreement. Waiting until college enrollment comes is too late, as by law the court cannot force payment.

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