My Teenager Doesn’t Like the Court Order. What Can I Do?

Frequently things settle down once a child custody order is in place. In a perfect world, everyone settles into the new routine. If there’s a teenager involved, it may not be so simple. What if your teenager doesn’t like the court order?

Having a court order doesn’t settle everything. While things are stressful and different for the parents, the parents do retain more stability in their lives because they only have one place to store their stuff and come home to at the end of the day. For a child going through a divorce, their living situation has become dynamic rather than static. They go back and forth between two houses and stability becomes an issue during an already emotionally unstable time in an adolescent’s life.

What happens if the court has ordered a division for physical custody and your teenager doesn’t like it? Maybe your teen is asking to live with you full time or maybe they are asking to live with their other parent full time. Either way, they are not complying, and you and their other parent must figure something out.

Evaluate the Situation

Figure out why they are making the request. Is there something unpleasant happening such as drug or alcohol abuse? Is there a significant other or step-siblings who they are uncomfortable with? If it’s you they’re pushing away from, you need to ask yourself these hard questions and be honest with yourself about the answers. Employing professional services may be needed to fully evaluate what’s going on.

Go to the Source

Talk to your teen and see if they will open up to you. Don’t discount something yelled at you in anger. There is likely at least a grain of truth in what they say in anger. Even the most unreasonable teen may be willing to talk if they feel confident that you are listening.

Don’t Take It Personally

Be prepared to listen and understand what your child is telling you instead of listening to respond. Don’t get defensive. Listen and ask questions like “What can I do?” rather than trying to prove them wrong.


Find out what the teenager wants the custody arrangement to look like. Ask what their ideal situation would be. As adults, we control our own living situation and would certainly rebel if someone attempted to wrest that control from us. Teenagers are mini-adults, so it’s not surprising they would want that same control. Working with them so they feel they have a voice in the situation can have a positive effect on their relationship with both parents.

It’s okay to get creative if it’s in your child’s best interest. Perhaps they live full time with one parent during the week but go to the other parent after school for homework. Or a child who wants to live full time in one household might be open to a month on and a month off.

In some cases, if both parties agree to the new arrangement, it’s not necessary to involve the court. However, if there’s a disagreement or the parents have a history of not cooperating with each other, filing the new arrangement with the court may be best to protect your child’s interest.

If the new agreement is going to affect child support, you would also want to make that change official.

Adjustments to a court order are best done with the assistance of a family law attorney experienced with the California family law system. Boyd Law attorneys have the expertise and compassion to assist with any necessary adjustments in the least disruptive manner for your family.