You and your ex spent countless hours working out child visitation schedules as part of your divorce. The court may have been involved as well to work out these schedules. Then, out of nowhere, your children refuse to visit you in accordance with the schedule.
Now what do you do? Do you force your child to go even though they are acting out? Do you and your ex give in just this once? What does this mean legally in regards to your visitation agreement? These are just some of the questions parents will have to address in the event that their children are refusing visitation.
The first thing you need to remember is the visitation schedule is a legally-binding agreement between the parents, not the children. It is equally important to remember teenagers do not have an absolute right to refuse visitation. However, the wishes of the children are always considered, if they are old enough to express their wishes. Access is a right of the child. If the visitation is court-ordered, allowing the children to decide on access is not normally an option.
Custodial parents have a legal obligation to comply with visitation schedules involving their children. If they fail to do so, they could find themselves back in court, having to answer to the judge. Judges tend to look unfavourably towards parents who do not uphold their part of the visitation agreement. There is always a concern that one parent is trying to alienate the children from the other parent.
For non-custodial parents, they are equally held to the visitation agreement. Do not try to change the schedule, show up late or not at all, or return them early. If the custodial parent decides the non-custodial parent is not upholding their end of the agreement, they too, could file a motion through their divorce lawyer to have the visitation agreement modified and access reduced.
Child-Parent Relationship Impacts
While courts tend to hold parents to visitation schedules and agreements, things are not always simple. The key thing to remember is you and your ex-spouse are the adults. Both of you have established rules your children must follow, like a set bedtime, doing their homework, or helping with chores around the house.
Just because they may not like these rules does not mean they get to disregard them when they do not want to do something. Ideally, the same standards should be maintained in regards to visitation schedules in each household. However, if the children refuse to go to one parent, it is important to find out why.
Talking to your children about the problem may reveal issues that have nothing to do with the parent. For instance, they may have been invited to a birthday party they would rather go to instead. They miss their friends. They are bored. They think the other parent will be lonely.
As your children get older and issues regarding visitation arise, it may require being a little more flexible without giving up your time with your children. You could plan sleepovers with their friends, take them to birthday parties, school events, or sporting events they want to attend. Try to work with them to make visits enjoyable, not simply routine.
Being a divorced parent can be challenging at times, especially when it comes to enforcing visitation schedules. By working with your ex or through your respective lawyers, you can address any issues that arise with your children without jeopardizing your parenting responsibilities and damaging your relationship with your children.