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Divorced Parents: What Can I Do When My Child Refuses to Go to Scheduled Visitations?

October 8, 2018   |   Tanya Davies   |   blog
Scheduled Visitations
Scheduled Visitations

Divorced Parents: What Can I Do When My Child Refuses to Go to Scheduled Visitations?

One of the challenges custodial parents can face is when their child refuses to go with the other parent during scheduled visitations. As a general rule, the child does not have a say about when they want to see the other parent. However, when the child refuses to go with the other parent, it can cause further strain between the divorced couple in two ways:

  1. The parents may become suspicious of each other and make assumptions about the other’s behaviour: that the other parent is at fault.

The custodial parent might assume that the other parent is mistreating the child during visitations and this is why they do not want to go. The non-custodial parent may think that the custodial parent is influencing the child in a negative manner and this is why they do not want to go.

  1. It can create an awkward situation between the parents and the child.

The custodial parent might believe they are letting their child down if they force them to go on a visit, assuming that the child has a valid reason for refusal. The non-custodial parent could believe they will make their relationship with their child worse if they insist that they come on the visitation rather than let the child have their way.

Figuring Out Why Your Child Refuses to Go to Scheduled Visitations

The reason why a child refuses to go on scheduled visitations typically fall into one of four primary categories, which prompts a different approach by both parents to resolve.

  1. Anxiety over the change to the family unit. The child can feel uncomfortable leaving familiar surroundings and going to a new home with the non-custodial parent. This can be made worse if the parent has a new partner.

Both parents need to work together to help the child become more comfortable with scheduled visitations.

  1. The child is manipulating his/her parents. As children get older, they may have other things they would rather do than spend time with the non-custodial parent (and often with the custodial parent). For instance, they may have been invited to a sleepover at a friend’s home or have another weekend activity planned.

The non-custodial parent could offer to take and drop them off or allow their child to bring the friend along for a sleepover at the non-custodial parent’s home instead. The child should be shown that the parent really wants to spend time with him/her. However, the child should not be bribed to encourage visits.

  1. One parent is manipulating the child. Sometimes the cause is that one parent is still upset about the divorce and is trying to get back at the other parent. The parent indicates to the child, indirectly or directly, that seeing the other parent would be a “betrayal”.

When manipulation occurs, it is not fair to the child or the other parent. If it can be proven in court, it could impact the current child custody agreement. Courts hate to see children placed in the middle of adult conflict.

  1. The child has a genuine fear of the other parent. Sometime the other parent takes their frustrations about the divorce out on the child through physical, emotional or sexual abuse. The parent may blame the child as the reason for the divorce.

If this is the case, then the other parent should seek legal advice and take the appropriate legal actions as soon as possible. Child abuse is a very serious issue.

If you are having difficulties seeing your child or the other parent is refusing to provide access, get help from Ottawa child custody lawyer, Tanya Davies by calling (613) 688-0462 now!

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