Divorcing when you have a child in their teens can be easier in some ways than having a younger child. Learning to co-parenting a teen, however, means grappling with more than some particularly challenging realities. One of them is helping your child learn to drive. This can test any parent’s patience. When you’re doing it across two households with an ex or soon-to-be ex, it can be considerably more difficult for everyone – including the anxious teen driver in the middle.
How can you help things go as smoothly as possible and preserve the sense of excitement and newfound responsibility this milestone represents for your child? Here are a few tips to consider.
Coordination is key
Whether your teen is taking driver’s ed at school or from a professional driving instructor, they’ll likely need to put in some additional hours behind the wheel with their parents. If your child has a log of hours driven, types of roads, weather conditions and maneuvers they’ve done, you and your co-parent will need to coordinate to ensure that they’re getting the required practice in.
You may decide to have one parent or the other handle the driving practice. However, that’s typically not practical if you’re sharing custody. Further, you both probably want to observe your child’s driving ability before they’re licensed and driving on their own.
Consistent rules are important
Just as you and your co-parent likely have rules and expectations for your teen that are consistent in both homes, the same should be true for your rules about driving. Fortunately, graduated driver’s license (GDL) regulations help with that. You may also want to put a parent-teen driving agreement in place once your child has their license. This can help keep everyone on the same page – and let your teen see that you’re approaching the situation as a parenting team.
Make the necessary changes to your support agreement
With a new teen driver comes new expenses. You’ll likely both need to add your child to your auto insurance policies if they’ll be driving both of your cars, which means your rates will increase. You’ll also have additional expenses for gas and maintenance.
You may need to modify your child support order and potentially other agreements, including your parenting plan. It’s a good idea to seek legal guidance to help ensure that you’re making all the necessary changes as this new chapter in co-parenting begins.