Child Custody Issues: Should I Force My Child to Visit with the Other Parent?

 Posted on December 10, 2015 in Child Custody

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois child custody lawyer,The holiday season can sometimes be an especially stressful for children of divorced parents. Between holiday dinners and get-togethers, completing schoolwork that may be assigned over the winter break, and finding time to spend with friends, it is no wonder that some children may be reluctant to spend a weekend or longer with the nonresidential parent – especially if that parent lives hours away from the child’s home or if the child does not have a good relationship with the nonresidential parent. If your child refuses to spend time with the nonresidential parent when it is that parent’s scheduled parenting time, what options do you have as the residential parent?

Option 1: Negotiate with the Other Parent

You may negotiate with the other parent to alter a parenting time schedule so long as you both agree to the modification and (preferably) you both sign a written document indicating the agreed-upon change. Perhaps in speaking with the other parent he or she would be willing to allow the child to remain with you and rest and visit with the child on another occasion. Do not be surprised, however, if the other parent does not wish to agree to a modification of the parenting time schedule around the holidays, as he or she may have already made plans that are difficult or impossible to undo. Nevertheless, speaking with the other parent may result in a quick and effortless solution.

Option 2: Negotiate with the Child

Depending on the age and maturity of your child, you may be able to reason with him or her about the need for visiting with the other parent. You can try to explain how visitation time is not just for the benefit of the other parent: it is also for the benefit of the child him- or herself. Your child will only have so many opportunities during his or her young life to create holiday memories with the nonresidential parent, so it is wise for him or her to take advantage of these visitations.

If Your Child Still Will Not Go Visit the Other Parent and the Other Parent Won't Change the Schedule

You should report any difficulties or challenges in carrying out the court’s parenting time plan to your attorney right away so that he or she is aware of the situation and can take any measures that may be appropriate under the circumstances. If your child is young, you may need to allow the visitation to take place over your child’s protests. If your child is an older teenager, it may ultimately be more disruptive and harmful to force the visitation to occur than it would be to allow your child to remain home. You should not, however, tell your child that he or she has the choice of whether he or she wants to visit his or her other parent: in fact, not only does the child not have the ability to choose when he or she will see the other parent, but you giving your child this option can be interpreted as an attempt to interfere with the other parent’s right to develop a relationship with the child.

Our law firm’s team of skilled DuPage County family law attorneys is available to answer all of your child custody and parenting time questions. Contact our Oswego or Wheaton office for assistance today.


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