What to do when your child fights the custody arrangements

Parents going through a divorce deal with the impact of the new living arrangements on their children. Depending on the age of any children involved, there is likely to be confusion, anger, frustration, hurt and a range of other emotions.

The parenting plan established during the divorce will outline the parenting time obligations for each parent. While it is tempting to side with your child who suddenly refuses to visit the other parent, not following through with the arrangements could negatively affect the whole family.

Discuss the reasons for refusal

Your child’s reasons for refusing to visit with the other parents could involve many things, but some of the more common include:

  • Rules or restrictions at the co-parent’s house
  • Being far away from friends, activities or hobbies they enjoy
  • Not liking the new partner or spouse of the co-parent
  • Strained relationships based on disagreements or lack of things in common

If a child talks about their experience at the co-parent’s house and there is an immediate concern for the health and safety of the child, this presents a different situation. This would require intervention from the court.

Determine coping strategies

Talking with your child about their dislike of the co-parent or their other emotions can help create strategies for coping with their position. Speak to the other co-parent about the issues that arise, carefully documenting if there is a change in the parenting schedule or the issues discussed.

As a parent, you have the authority to enforce the parenting agreement and schedule. It is a delicate and emotional situation but ignoring the agreement could lead to bigger problems.