Following a custody dispute, divorce, or separation, not just the parents, but also the children may have a difficult time adjusting to the new “normal” of living between two separate households. Family law disputes sometimes involve a high degree of animosity and tension between the parents, and children are perceptive and can pick up on the conflict. In some cases, children will start refusing to visit with the other parent. This creates a variety of issues for both the parents and needs to be addressed.
If you are the parent that the children are refusing to visit, there are several issues that need to be addressed. First, if it is a sudden change and the children have suddenly started to refuse, there may be an attempt by the other parent to alienate the children from you. The other parent or another adult close to the children may be giving the children misinformation in an attempt to estrange the children from you. Keep the lines of communication with the other parent as open as possible to attempt to determine why the children have suddenly stopped wanting to visit. If the other parent refuses to cooperate with attempts at communication and is not encouraging the children to visit, it may be necessary for you to see your attorney to determine whether there is any recourse against the other parent.
If the children reside with you and have expressed they no longer desire to visit the other parent, you need to make every effort to find out why they have changed their mind. You should be especially concerned about sudden changes, as this can signal a serious issue happening in the other household. Talk with your child and with the other parent about the change in behavior. You are obligated to take the children to visit pursuant to the provisions of the parenting plan. If you willingly fail to live up to your obligations under a court order, you may be held in contempt. That said, it is obviously much easier to bring an unwilling five year old to a visit than a sixteen year old. Courts are not insensitive to the difficulties of forcing an older child to attend visitation when he or she flat-out refuses. If this is the case, you need to make all possible efforts to encourage continued communication and visitation between the child and the other parent. In some cases, family therapy may be beneficial to help work out the issues and get visitation resumed as soon as possible.If you have a situation that involves a child refusing visitation, contact us today at (732) 529-6937. We have experience in these cases and helping clients plan the next step in a way to protect the children and the parent-child relationship.