child on her cellphone alone in a roomMany children own cell phones these days. It is common to see them chatting, texting, taking selfies, playing games, watching shows, and listening to music just about everywhere. However, divorced parents sharing custody might have conflicting opinions about their child owning a cell phone.

One parent might want to keep in touch with the child when the other party has parenting time. The other parent might feel the child isn’t old or mature enough to handle the device responsibly. This sort of conflict can escalate into a full-blown parental war. However, it boils down to not having cell phone regulation in the parenting plan.

Sometimes, parents might agree to give the child a phone to encourage regular communication irrespective of who has parenting time. However, without a parenting plan that officially addresses cell phone usage, it might interfere with the parent-child relationship and cause conflicts.

Addressing Cell Phone Usage in Your Parenting Plan

A parenting plan sets forth rules and guidelines on custody and visitation schedules, decision-making authority, and parents’ financial responsibilities. It also states the rights and privileges the child will receive.

Setting out these guidelines usually involves careful consideration during negotiation or mediation in a child custody case. No childcare issue is too trivial not to discuss and add to your parenting plan, including cell phone terms. With a formal agreement, you and your ex will be on the same page, which is essential for effective co-parenting

Promoting Parent-Child Communication

Generally, it is in the child’s best interest to have regular communication with both parents. While they may not have daily access due to custody schedules, communication should be open, frequent, and positive. Each parent should strive to encourage the child’s contact with the other parent.

Promoting the parent-child relationship includes providing a cell phone for the child. It can give your child a sense of security since they can reach out to you during an emergency or at any time. A cell phone also prevents parental alienation since you can stay connected with your child when they’ve gone to your co-parent’s home.

Phone access should be at reasonable hours, duration, and intervals. Parents should agree on specific call times, such as when the child is available to receive them. These communications should also go on without malicious interference from the other party.

When Cell Phone Usage is Not Right

While a mobile phone has many benefits, it also has its detriments. Before deciding on cell phone usage for your child, you’ll need to be sure that they are mature enough to handle such responsibility. A cell phone, especially one with internet access, may not be appropriate for children of all ages. Always keep in mind that your decisions must be in the child’s best interest.

Listen to the other parent’s opinion before concluding. They may have valid reasons why your child shouldn’t use a cell phone. If you act alone in providing your child with a phone without an agreement with your co-parent, you might be inviting unnecessary conflict.


Cell phone usage and regulations are just one part of your parenting plan. However, they can create disputes between you and your ex if you don’t address them adequately.

It is advisable to reach out to the Bellevue child custody lawyers at the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny to help you resolve any childcare issue you may have. You can schedule a private consultation with us by phone or by completing our contact form.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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