Co-Parenting Issue: How to Deal With Child Visitation Refusals

There are a number of problems parents face after divorce, but one of the hardest is when a child refuses to leave for a scheduled visitation with the other parent. While the child may have a preference for one parent, legally, the other parent is entitled to time with the child based on the court’s ruling. Here are some things you can do to deal with this challenging situation and handle it with dignity:

    • Ask questions. You need to talk to your child and look for the cause. Does your child want more time with you, or is there a situation in the other household that causes them to feel neglected or makes them not want to go there? Are they bored at one home? Some children do not like to leave because of pets or their half-siblings. If the child experiences sadness or anxiety, talk to them about their feelings. Bring up the feelings and concerns with the other parent so you can handle the situation properly. Despite your feeling for your ex, they are still a large part of your child’s life. It is vital to work with them to find a solution to help your child feel love and support.
    • Ensure them the other parent wants to see them too. When your child is struggling to go to the other home, it is important to reassure them the other parent loves and cares about them as well. You want to make sure they know they are not missing out on good times with you, but will be missing out on fun times with the other parent.
    • Communicate with your ex. It is vital to keep the lines of communication open with your ex. Let them know about your child’s refusal and talk about the problems they are facing. While this is a sensitive topic, it is one you need to bring up for the well-being of your child.

Remember your ex may be hearing the same things about you. The transition between two homes is stressful and hard for children. You need to be open and understanding with the concerns your ex has about you. The goal is to create a circle of love and acceptance for your child no matter which home they are in. Working together is the best way to overcome difficult moments with your children.


About the Author

Experienced Divorce Lawyer Kelly Peterson handles child custody, visitation, paternity, grandparent rights and mediation cases.

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*Child Welfare Law Specialist Nat’l Assoc. of Counsel for Children