A parenting plan is usually the product of countless debates between parents. After this painstaking process is complete and the plan is finalized, families are left to adjust to sending children back and forth between parental homes for time-sharing. These changes can be overwhelming to children and in some cases may lead to a child’s outright refusal to go to a parent’s residence. The parent who is not being seen will be in the difficult position of either going without their time or making their child comply. The question of whether or not a parent can force their child to visit during time-sharing is complicated.
Consider Your Child’s Age and Maturity
If the child is very young, refusal to visit could be partly due to their being at an age where they are testing limits. In that instance, both parents will need to work together in order to help their child understand this transition and keep them on their time-sharing schedule. By being consistent, you are giving your child a sense of stability which will help ease them into this new routine. If the child's actions are severe, it may be that they are struggling with the traumatic effects of their parent's separation. Naturally, parents do not want to inflict further emotional distress of their child. Therefore, in this situation before making a young child visit, it would be advisable for the child and parents to visit with a therapist in order to determine the best way to help them process their reactions and feelings.
When children are older, it is not a simple matter to make them participate in time-sharing. For instance, a sixteen-year-old who is made to visit a parent against their will may resent the parent and either shut down or act out during their time together. Involuntary time-sharing is not likely to make for a positive experience for either parent or child. As with young children, this situation can be more easily addressed if parents are cooperative and work together. However, this degree of collaboration is not always realistic. Further, sometimes professional help will be needed to assist your child. Therefore it may be helpful to elicit the help of a trained family counselor to help you and your child work things out.
Consider Your Child’s Reasons
Another consideration for children of any age are the reasons they are resisting parenting time. Talking with your child may provide explanations and give you a starting point to begin working towards a resolution. For instance, if you are spending your time together disparaging the other parent or insist that your new romantic partner always be present, your child may not want to be around you. By taking the time to discuss their feelings you can learn about your child’s perspective and provide reassurance that you want them to be comfortable during time-sharing.
Ultimately, even if you can make a child be present for time-sharing, you should not always do so. By taking your child's age, emotional state, and motivations into consideration, you can determine the best way to move towards adjusting to your new family dynamic and spending quality time together.
We have experience and knowledge which will provide you with the guidance you need to create and implement a workable time-sharing plan which considers the individual needs of your family. If you need advice concerning your parenting agreement and time-sharing issues, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. We invite you to learn more about our firm here.