Divorce is hard on everyone involved, and it might be even more so for your children. You made it through the difficult process of hammering out terms that guide your post-divorce parental rights, and you are probably learning to cope with the visitation schedule your child has with his or her other parent. In other words, you've come a long way. However, if your child throws a wrench into the situation by refusing to follow the visitation schedule, it can complicate the matter further. (Read more about creating a holiday visitation schedule that works for you)
The Bottom Line
When it comes to parenting time (or child custody) issues, the bottom line is that it is not the child’s decision. Whether you and your ex negotiated terms together or the court handed down a visitation schedule, the child in question’s preferences (after the fact) have no bearing on the situation. In the end, it is the right of your child’s other parent to see your shared child according to the visitation schedule, and it is your job to ensure that the child is where he or she needs to be and prepared to go when the time for visitation rolls around.
Considering Your Child’s Position
As mentioned, divorce is hard on children, and your child’s refusal to see your ex could be the result of many factors, including:
- Divorce has probably wrought so much change in your child's life that he or she may be attempting to maintain the status quo – even if it is a newly established status quo.
- Your feelings about your ex may not be especially positive at the moment, and it is very likely that your child is picking up on that. He or she may be taking a stand in solidarity with your position (even if you do not realize that you have been so transparent).
- Your child may have generalized anxiety after the upheaval of the divorce that leaves him or her less well able to cope with change, including spending time away from his or her home.
There are many reasons why your child may not want to follow the visitation schedule, and fortunately, there are things you can do to help him or her get past them. (Read more about helping your child overcome divorce)
Helping Your Child
The fact is that your child will need to be with his or her other parent according to the court-ordered schedule, and it is your task to help him or her make the most of this opportunity to continue bonding with his or her other parent – rather than dreading it. Some helpful actions you can take include:
- Checking your negative attitude and focusing on being more encouraging
- Talking with your child openly about whatever it may be that is bothering him or her
- Finding a counselor who specializes in these complicated issues and will help your child better explore his or her feelings
A Dedicated Killeen Family Law Attorney Can Help
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a trusted family law attorney who understands the complexities of child custody concerns and has the experience and compassion to help. To learn more, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.