When a Child Does Not Want to Go

As any parent can attest, children are not always cooperative or reasonable. You may instruct or request that they complete a certain task only to be met with aggression or resistance from the child. Children of divorced parents are no different, and many divorced parents with whom their child primarily resides have experienced situations in which their child has resisted going with the other parent when it is the other parent’s time for visitation.

Residential parents faced with this situation are in a delicate predicament: on the one hand, court orders clearly indicate the other parent is entitled to parenting time with the child. Allowing the child to miss scheduled parenting time with the other parent may be interpreted as attempting to interfere with that parent’s relationship with the child. Conversely, many parents do not want to force their child to spend time with a person that they do not want to see as this may damage the child’s relationship with that person even more.

Tips for Parents When a Child is Being Difficult

Courts know and understand that children can be unpredictable. Many judges only expect parents to take reasonable measures to address situations in which a child does not want to visit with the other parent. If your child is scheduled to spend time with his or her other parent but the child expresses that he or she does not want to do so, the following tips may help:

  • Understand the reason for the resistance: Try to uncover why your child is resisting his or her visitation with the other parent. Is there abuse that is occurring at the other parent’s house (whether verbal, physical, or sexual)? Is the child neglected while in the care of the other parent? If so, this should be brought to the attention of your attorney and the court so that appropriate protective orders can be entered. If it is for some other reason (the other parent does not allow the child to play with his or her friends or does not buy him or her toys, for example) attempt to reason with your child about the necessity of visiting with the other parent.
  • Involve the other parent, if appropriate: If a difference in parenting styles is to blame for the resistance (i.e., the other parent is not as lenient in dealing with disciplinary issues), attempt to enlist the other parent’s help in finding a resolution. Divorced parents experience significantly better results in overcoming visitation issues when they work together and cooperate. If you know the reason why the child is not wanting to visit with the other parent, you can communicate this to the parent and help him or her in crafting a resolution to the problem.
  • Do not suggest your child can miss visitation time: Courts view parenting time with both parents as essential to the child’s emotional health and development. When a child resists visiting with the other parent, some residential parents tell their child that they do not need to go “if they [the child] do not want to.” Do not give your child this option (unless, of course, you suspect abuse is occurring).

Bring any visitation-related issues to the attention of your family law attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the reason for the child’s reluctance to visit, the child’s age, and the situation of the parents, additional court orders may be necessary or existing court orders may need to be changed. Brick child custody attorney Peter J. Bronzino may be able to assist you in working through visitation and parenting time issues. Contact Bronzino Law Firm today for a free initial consultation by calling (732) 812-3102.