During the divorce process, ex-spouses usually settle on a visitation schedule and parenting plan that may seem to work well for everyone involved. However, sometimes everything may proceed smoothly until visitation time comes around and your child refuses visitation with the other parent.
While it’s common for children to be reluctant or refuse to visit the non-custodial parent. But it is the responsibility of the primary custodial parent to make every effort to adhere to visitation orders and to foster a positive relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent.
Most jurisdictions have laws stating that the custodial parent must make efforts to encourage a positive relationship with the non-custodial parent. The court can change the custodial parent to the other parent if the current custodial parent refuses to participate or actively hinders co-parenting.
Our child custody attorneys in The Woodlands, Texas can offer crucial insights on what to do when your child refuses visitation. Read on to learn more.
Why Would a Child Refuse to See a Parent After a Divorce?
Children’s reluctance to spend time with a parent can have various causes, ranging from the child’s own preferences and temperament to more severe problems like neglect and abuse.
A child’s reaction to a visit from one parent may be less than enthusiastic for a variety of reasons, including:
- The child’s age
- Different household rules
- Parenting styles
- Parental conflicts
A child may be reacting to other stresses, like issues at school or with friends, but in some cases, there may be a severe problem, like the child’s relationship with one or both parents.
The situation is exacerbated if one or both parents have significant doubts about the other’s capacity as a parent and their ability to meet the child’s needs. Although hearing “no” from a child regarding visitation can be devastating to a parent, there are ways to cope with the disappointment.
Should You Force the Child to Visit?
The most crucial thing to remember is to be objective. Even though your child is complaining about their other parent, you shouldn’t immediately blame your ex for the rejection.
When both parents are quick to find fault with each other, it’s easy for the child to take advantage of the situation and use the conflict to their advantage. This is primarily a common experience in parents who have recently divorced.
Although it’s important to hear your child out, remember to give your ex the benefit of the doubt when the child complains about or resists visiting the other parent.
It’s your responsibility as a parent to figure out what’s going on with your child. You can help your child overcome their negative outlook by taking a step back and looking at the situation from an objective perspective.
Steps to Take When Your Child Refuses Visitation
Child custody orders are final and binding, like any other order issued after a divorce. It is the legal obligation of everyone involved to abide by these orders. This includes abiding by the visitation schedule established in a Texas child custody case.
Because of the severe consequences of disobeying a court order, many parents try to comply. But what can parents do when the child refuses visitation as prescribed by court orders?
Remember that You Are in Charge
Divorce is extremely challenging for children. Some parents may give in to unreasonable demands as they try to ease their child’s suffering. You should strive to let go of any guilt you may be feeling and parent your child from a place of love and understanding.
Remember, it is your duty to observe the established visitation times. You will face significant legal repercussions if you do not follow the child custody order.
This doesn’t negate the need to consider your child’s perspective. Let them know that you and your ex-spouse share a deep love for them and that it’s best for everyone if they spend time with both of you.
Consider your behavior during and after the divorce. Do not make your child uncomfortable about seeing your ex by criticizing them in front of them or by acting negatively toward them. Even very young toddlers are perceptive and can be discouraged from visiting the other parent if they see their parents making negative comments.
Find Out Why Your Child Refuses Visitation
If your child refuses to see the other parent, you must determine why. It could be as simple as your ex being too strict with the homework rules. Or the situation may be far more dire, such as in cases of domestic violence.
Ask your child why they don’t want to visit without passing judgment. Assure them you hear them and care, but you also have to think about everyone in the family.
Be Positive About Co-Parenting
It can be challenging to communicate with your co-parent, but it’s in everyone’s best interest to try. Explain to them the situation and ask that they maintain their composure when dealing with the child.
If possible, provide an alternative method of communication between your co-parent and your child. Your co-parent can still feel connected to the child through phone calls and video chats, creating a low-stress setting for the youngster.
Seeing a family therapist or other mental health expert is also helpful. A trained expert can help the whole family zero in on the source of the problem and work together to find a solution. Your child and your co-parent could benefit from the assistance of a mental health expert in mending their relationship.
Prepare for Smooth Visitation Transitions
Minor setbacks during the visitation transition can exacerbate your child’s resistance to visitation. Prepare them with everything they’ll need for their visit with their parent.
Remind them that a visit is imminent so they are not caught off guard. Keep transitions short and pleasant. Inform your child you care about and miss them, but you also want them to enjoy their time with the other parent.
Maintaining a positive attitude about the impending visitation is essential even before the actual transition occurs. Share your excitement about your child spending time with their other parent and, if applicable, their step-siblings. Think positively to help your child do the same.
Consult a Child Custody Attorney in The Woodlands, Texas
Children usually find it challenging to comply with visitation schedules. You should take legal precautions if your child refuses visits with the other parent.
If your child still refuses visitation with your co-parent, our Texas child custody attorney at Bolton Law Firm, P.C. can advise you on your legal options and next steps. Contact us at 281-351-7897 or through our online form to schedule a consultation and evaluate your case.