It’s not uncommon for a child to pick sides in a divorce and refuse to see the other parent. But what should you do about it?
Sometimes children have a parent they tend to favor. This can occur when the parents are happily married, and can be magnified when going through divorce or coparenting in different households. It may depend on the child’s age as well. A teenager might prefer to stay with the parent who lets them do whatever they want. A younger child may prefer to stay with the parent who buys them more toys. So what do you do when your child does not want to see their other parent?
There are a number of scenarios that could occur and cause a child to favor one parent over the other. If you are the parent whom the child favors, you need to figure out why the child favors you before you take any actions. You should consider the following factors:
Factor in the maturity of the child
If you child is 16 and you let your child stay out all hours of the night, or the other parent has harsh discipline, it is likely obvious why your child wants to stay with you. However, if your child is only 10, there may be other reasons why the child wants to stay with you.
What is the other parent like?
Was the other parent an alcoholic while you were married? Is it possible the parent drinks or is using drugs when he or she has the child? You should take into consideration the other parent’s history and behavior. It may be possible that the child does not feel safe at the other parent’s home. Maybe the child is being abused or treated very poorly.
Speak with your child to determine why the child does not want to see the other parent. If you are considering seeking court intervention in regards to this issue, make sure there is a legitimate concern for the child seeing the other parent. If the child is only not wanting to see their other parent because their curfew is earlier there, the court will likely still make the child go. However, if the child is being abused or feeling unsafe, the court may limit that other parent’s parenting time.
Eliminate alienating behavior
Alienating behavior can be as simple as rolling your eyes when the other parent calls, refusing to support the other parents decisions, discounting the other parents opinions, or directly talking badly about the other parent in front of your child.
Keep in mind that depending on the child’s age, the court may consider the child’s wishes. If a 16-year-old child tells the court that they do not want to see their father, the court will take that into consideration. However, 7-year-old’s wishes will likely not be considered as strongly, unless the child is testifying that they have been abused or are scared of their parent.
With that in mind, it is important that you continue to follow your current parenting plan. You do not want to appear as though you are withholding the child from the other parent unreasonably. The only exception to this would be if the child would be in danger with the other parent. If that is the case, then you have an obligation to protect that child.