custody issues

It’s time for your child to visit their non-custodial parent, and they’re not happy about having to go. What is your job in that situation? The short answer is: follow the custody order. But of course reality is never that easy. How about two scenarios to help explain it. Scenario one: You’re getting your seven year old child’s things together for their visit with Dad and all the while they’re crying and asking why they have to go. Seeing the tears streaming down their face might tug at your heart and you might find yourself saying they can just stay with you instead.

Big mistake.

You as the parent will be held responsible for interfering with the visitation of the non-custodial parent should they choose to go to a Judge. When the Court mandates visitation, you must comply or the non-custodial parent could file a motion against you. The best thing for you to do in this situation is listen to your child’s concerns but encourage your child to visit with Dad (or mom, whomever has visitation) and insist that there is no option but to go. If there are legitimate concerns, voice them but remember that children’s views tend to be skewed.

She might say “but Dad is mean to me” and in reality, she was scolded for drawing on the walls or not eating her vegetables. Scenario two: You’re not expecting your 17 year old home for dinner, he’s supposed to have driven over to his mom’s house because it’s her weekend and yet there he is, rummaging through the refrigerator. You ask him “what are you doing here? You’re supposed to be with your mother this weekend” and his response, complete with the typical surly teenage tone “Yeah, whatever. I’m not going, Mom’s place is boring.”

Now you’re thinking “What the heck am I supposed to do? It’s not like I can force him into the car.” Judges tend to understand that it would be pretty difficult to force a teenager to go somewhere they do not want to go, especially once they’re over 16, but they still expect you as the parent to encourage them to follow the custody order and explain simply that the Court has mandated it and there is no choice. If they continue to refuse, the Court may hold them responsible for their behavior. The best way to handle a situation like this is to encourage your teen to openly communicate with both of you and work it out outside of the court room.

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