At the David W. Martin Law Group, our South Carolina family Lawyer understands that child custody agreements or court orders that are determined during a divorce are not always well-received by everyone involved.
In some cases, the decisions can lead to defiance from the kids, stating they do not want to go to the other parent’s home during their scheduled visitation days.
When a child refuses to visit their other parent, there are multiple scenarios that can lead to this decision.
Here, we explore the factors that may result in these refusals, and how both parents may land in legal trouble if they do not manage these situations appropriately.
What Happens When Children Refuse to Visit Their Other Parent?
Divorces are highly emotional for both the parents and their children and can lead to unpredictable behavior from all parties. When kids refuse to visit their other parent, it is important to determine why that is true.
Inherently, this behavior originates in one of the following ways:
· Something Bad is Happening in the Other Parent’s House
The genuine fearfulness of the other parent is a situation that must be addressed immediately to ensure your children are always safe. If you believe your children are being emotionally, physically, or sexually abused by their other parent, or someone else in the home — like a new partner, spouse, or other children — talk to our South Carolina family law attorneys right away about your legal options to limit their unsupervised exposure to the parent or harmful party.
Allegations of abuse, drug use, or other harmful behavior must be corroborated by facts and evidence. This may include bruises, photos, witness testimony, calls to law enforcement from the residence, and/or other professional involvement. We can help you understand what it will take to keep your kids safe now and going forward.
· One Parent is Manipulating the Situation
Unfortunately, there are circumstances where the custodial parent is purposefully manipulating their children into not visiting the other parent.
Whether this occurs by telling the kids he or she is sad they are leaving, and wishes they wouldn’t go, by embellishing all the fun they are going to miss out on by going away for the weekend, or by making negative comments about their other parent by blaming him or her for the divorce, this behavior is harmful to the children, and fully impacts their ability to have a positive and nurturing relationship with their other parent.
If you believe your ex-spouse/partner is driving a wedge between you and your kids, talk to our experienced family law attorneys in South Carolina about how you take the legal steps necessary to address this damaging behavior.
· The Kids Are Manipulating the Situation
Kids are much smarter than adults give them credit for, especially when their parents are divorced. They can manipulate visitation schedules by saying they do not want to go to the other parent’s house for a myriad of justifiable reasons, when the reality is, they simply want to go to a pool party that weekend, hang out with friends in their custodial parent’s community, or they simply do not have as much freedom in the other parent’s home.
These are not valid reasons for avoiding visitation, and they must be addressed by both parents as a team.
· Everyone is Anxious
When parents are anxious about visitation schedules, which is typically common at the beginning of the exchanges — the children can feel the anxiety and become emotionally burdened by it. This does not require one parent to exhibit damaging behavior, it may just be a sense the children get when it is time to leave.
If this is true for your kids, listen to and respect their feelings. If they do not want to go because they do not want to leave you alone, explain that you will be fine, and that you want them to give the same love and consideration to the other parent. Positiveness goes a long way with anxious children and can help reinforce their relationship with the other parent.
Bottom Line: Both Parents Have a Legal Obligation to Uphold Their Custody Agreement
Both parents may place themselves in legal jeopardy with the South Carolina family court if they do not follow their custody agreement or court order to the letter. Save for agreed-upon changes — like switching days to accommodate schedules, vacations, or extracurricular activities — both parties must uphold child custody and visitation plans.
If you believe the other parent is interfering with your visitation rights, call 803-548-2468 or contact us online to set a meeting with our South Carolina child custody lawyers to learn more about your legal rights and options to return to court and enforce the agreement or order the court handed down, so you can preserve your relationship with your children before it is beyond repair.