Kids will be kids, and sometimes they are unpredictable. They may behave in ways that even they do not understand. When their parents are no longer together, their behavior may spill over into custody matters that can cause trouble for everyone involved. Whether your child is a toddler, of middle school age or a teen, if he or she is suddenly refusing to go with the other parent for court-ordered custody time, you may be uncertain how to address the situation.
Naturally, you want to do what you think is best for your child. If your child is going through a difficult time emotionally, you may worry that putting your foot down and insisting he or she comply with the custody order may create an even greater divide between you and the child. Nevertheless, legal professionals may advise you that allowing the child to refuse visitation may put your own custody rights at risk.
You have to be the parent
If your child is balking, throwing temper tantrums or flat-out refusing to go with the other parent for visitation, there is likely an underlying reason. However, it may not be your place to decide whether that reason is good enough to deny parenting time the court has ordered or approved. Unless you fear for your child’s safety at the other parent’s house, you may have to do the difficult job of insisting that your child obey the orders of the court. You may also try some of these strategies:
- Discuss the matter calmly with the other parent and document the details of the conversation.
- Keep a log of every time your child refuses to go and the circumstances of the refusal.
- See if your child will talk to you and explain why he or she does not want to go.
- Avoid any actions that may increase your child’s anxiety about going, such as badmouthing the other parent or using your child to obtain information about your ex’s life.
- Try to keep the days of exchange as calm and positive as possible.
- Obtain advice from your attorney.
Legal advice may be helpful from the earliest time when your child refuses to go with the other parent. By allowing the child to remain with you, you may be in violation of a court order, and your co-parent may have cause to seek the court’s involvement.