Our Maryland readers may have heard about the impending divorce of movie star and American icon Clint Eastwood. After 17 years of marriage, Eastwood’s wife has filed for divorce in their home state of California, claiming irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split. Apparently the two have been separated for at least one year, but now that the divorce process is officially underway each party will have a lot of legal issues to consider, not the least of which is the custody of their 16-year-old daughter.
Child custody is often one of the most hotly contested issues in a divorce, but when a child is so close to the age of maturity, legal custody is, in many parents’ eyes, less of a concern. After all, the average 16-year-old child is not only less dependent on their parents than most children, they have already gone through their formative developmental years and the parent-child relationship has already been established. In addition, a 16-year-old child is able to drive in most states, which makes spending time with each parent much easier when the divorced parents live within a reasonable distance.
That isn’t to say there aren’t very important issues in a custody dispute involving an older child. A 16-year-old is still largely financially dependent on the parents, and issues such as health care, schooling and child support still loom large in any child custody case. But every divorce situation is different, and every child has different needs.
Ultimately, it remains to be seen whether the 83-year-old Eastwood gets entangled in a legal battle over child custody. Under these circumstances, the court will probably weigh their daughter’s wishes heavily, and may decide that living in the situation that creates the least disruption in her life will be in the best interests of the child.
Source: CNN Entertainment, “Clint Eastwood’s wife files for divorce,” Alan Duke, Oct. 25, 2013