What if a Child Doesn’t Want to see the Other Parent?
What do you do when a child does not want to spend time with the other parent? It’s a common question and the answer is never easy but here are some practical tips:
The strict legal answer is that the primary carer has a positive obligation to facilitate contact time, but then it is necessary to look at the actual circumstances of every case, as situations are unique. Some of those special circumstances will include:
- the child’s age and maturity level;
- history of the proceedings;
- history of family violence; and
- if there is a court order about spending time with the parent.
If your child is refusing to spend time, as the parent you have a duty to encourage and positively comply with orders (if there is an order in place). If you do not, then you risk being found to be in breach of the court orders unless you have a “reasonable excuse”.
Hopefully with consistent positive reinforcement from you, your child will become more willing to spend time with the other parent. We suggest the following may serve as a guide for what a parent can do on a regular basis and not just as a one-off:
- Physically take the child to the place of changeover as provided for in the court order.
- Continue to encourage the child to spend time with the other parent by:
- before they go saying to the child that they will have fun with the other parent;
- being positive and supportive of the child spending time with the other parent by your body language and the things you say to them;
- talking with the child about things they can do with the other parent and raising positive points; and
- following the child’s time with the other parent talking with them about that what they did and how great it was.
Should your child remain adamant that they do not want to spend time with the other parent and time does not go ahead, you will likely be better placed to argue that you had a ‘reasonable excuse’ for contravening the court order, than if you did nothing more than drive the child to the changeover location.
However, if you believe spending time with the other parent puts the child at serious risk of physical or psychological harm then you need to balance your obligation to protect against the requirement to facilitate time occurring with the other. You should get immediate legal help as the police and other authorities may also need to be told of the issue.
Michael Lynch Family Lawyers are highly experience in all matters of Family Law, including parenting arrangements. We can help you understand your options and achieve the best possible outcome during a separation. Call us today on (07) 3221 4300 to arrange a no obligation fixed-fee initial consultation.