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Hi, my name is Shana Gordon-Katz and I am an associate at the Feldstein Family Law Group. Today, I will be speaking to you about what to do when your child refuses to see one parent.
When your child refuses to spend time with one of their parents, your initial instinct may be to support your child’s decision. However, it is important for you to determine why your child is refusing access.
Generally speaking, it is in your child’s best interests to have a relationship with both his/ her parents. And, it is important for you, as your child’s parent, to encourage your child to have a relationship with the other parent. The best thing to do is to engage in conversation with your child in order to determine and isolate the root of the problem. To explain, you may want to ask your child why he/she is refusing access, as it may be something that can be easily resolved. For example, your child may be frustrated by something trivial like taking their personal possessions back and forth from one house to the other, or maybe they do not wish to go because the other parent has a new partner that resides in the home.
If there is no “easy fix” and your child is simply refusing to go, you may want to remind your child that his/her other parent is a good, loving, and capable parent. Depending on the child’s age, sometimes it may even be necessary to facilitate access with your child and his/her other parent. Not doing so, may result in claims of parental alienation being made against you. Furthermore, family counseling with both parents and the child may be helpful for your child as they can speak to a neutral third party without feeling like they are choosing sides.
If you and your spouse cannot get along in front of your child, it may be impacting his/her feelings towards one parent. This is why it is important that you refrain from making disparaging remarks to or about each other in front of the children. Rather, you should be making positive comments about the other parent in the presence of the child. Remember that the access parent can and may bring your behavior and your efforts at facilitating a relationship between the children and the other parent to the Court’s attention; therefore, it is important that you do not negatively influence your child’s feelings toward the other parent.