Visitation and the Reluctant Child

For divorced parents with children, even if you have legitimate grievances with each other, all of that needs to be set aside when it comes to your children. Numerous studies have shown that having quality relationships with both parents is much better for kids in the long run than having strained or nonexistent relationships.

However, divorce is hard on many children, and they react in different ways. One of the most difficult situations to navigate after a divorce is when a child doesn’t want to spend time with the noncustodial parent.

In reality, the reluctance to spend time with a noncustodial parent may have nothing to do with the adult. Think about the situation from the children’s perspective: every week or two, they’re getting sent away from a home they may have lived in their whole life, leaving all their personal belongings behind, to spend 48 hours in a strange new place with a parent who use to live with them. It’s not hard to see how this might frighten, frustrate or confuse a child.

Children don’t really have much of a choice, so it’s important to help them adjust to the situation. Especially with a younger child, the custodial parent should abide by the visitation agreement as strictly as possible. The decision of whether to spend time with a parent shouldn’t be left to a child. Abiding by the agreement is respectful to the noncustodial parent and the relationship between the child and both parents. With an older child, it can be more complicated, as it’s often stressful to force teens to visit a parent.

Again, this may not have anything to do with the parent. Older children and teenagers frequently would rather not spend time with either parent, preferring the company of friends and the freedom to make their own weekend plans.

An experienced Chicago family law attorney can help you sort out some of the complicated post-divorce issues associated with visitation and other child custody matters. 

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