What Do I Do If My Child Refuses Visitation with Me?
Getting your child to eat vegetables they don’t like is one thing. Getting them to visit with a parent they don’t want to see is quite another. After a divorce, custody and visitation arrangements will almost always provide that the child needs to spend time with both parents on their designated days. But when that day comes, a child may adamantly refuse to go. Given that a court order directs the parents to exchange the child as provided in that order, what is a parent to do in the face of such a refusal?
If you are the custodial parent, you are responsible for making sure the child is ready to go or is brought to the other parent at the specified time. You should encourage the child to see the other parent.
Find out the reason the child does not want to see the other parent: maybe they are clinging to you and do not want you to be alone; maybe they want to hang out with their friends or do something else instead; maybe they truly do not want to spend time with the other parent anymore. Unless the reason for their refusal is something that calls into question their well-being or threatens their best interest, you’ll need to make the effort.
Not that it will be easy; every parent knows that negotiating with a child to get them to do something they don’t want to do can be exhausting. It can be even harder to compel a teenager to physically get in the car or go where they need to. But that doesn’t relieve you from the obligation to try.
If you are the parent on the receiving end of such a refusal, you will want to work with your child as well as the other parent to try to get to the root of the problem. You will also want to ensure that the refusal is in fact coming from the child and is not the result of coaching or interference from the other parent. If the other parent is actively trying to interfere with your visitation rights or alienate you from your child, these are serious matters you should raise with your divorce attorney so he or she can bring it to the attention of the judge.