Many parents face issues with their children voicing that they do not want to go to the other parent’s home when the parties have divorced and agreed to a custody schedule. There is really no defined age at which a child can determine their own schedule.
If the custody schedule determines that the child is to go to the other parent’s home on a certain day and the child states he or she does not want to go, what are the options for the parent who does not want to be found to be in contempt of court for failure to require the child to go to the other parent’s home?
There are instances where a child simply states they do not want to go to the other parent’s home. The custodial parent should calmly ask if there's any reason why, which could be legitimate such as feeling sick and afraid they will throw up, etc. The custodial parent should ask the child about their symptoms, take their temperature and assess the situation.
If there does not appear to be a valid sickness, the custodial parent should tell the child that the other parent will be advised of the symptoms, but the child still must go to the other parent’s home, as that parent loves the child and is looking forward to time with them. The custodial parent should first of all communicate with the other parent what is going on with the child on the custodian exchange date.
If the child continues to refuse to go, then this refusal should be communicated to the other parent. This communication should be about the child’s refusal, without any name calling or blaming the other parent. Approach the issue as if it is a joint issue that both parents need to help solve. It is both parent’s responsibility to adhere to the custody decree.
If the child continues to refuse to go, the custodial parent must advise the child that the custodial exchanges are every bit as important and a necessity as going to school. If your child does not want to go to school, a parent would only allow the child to stay home if he was demonstrably ill, and that they are required to stay in their room, in their bed and to rest, and that his or her phone and computer are not to be turned on until the end of the school day, dinner time etc.
If the child continues to refuse to go to the custodial parent’s home and he is not sick the custodial parent should advise the other parent of this behavior and that the child’s privileges will be taken away from them for this disobedient behavior. That could include loss of cell phone, loss of gaming privileges, grounding etc.
The primary requirement is to communicate with the other custodial parent without blaming them and to advise them what disciplinary action you intend to take.
If the disciplinary action does not work, therapy for the child and the parent the child does not want to see should be initiated. The child therapist will hold the child’s confidences, unless the therapist is required to call Child Protective Services to report child abuse. The therapist will likely meet with the child several times prior to asking the parent to attend that the child does not wish to visit. The purpose of the therapy is to help communication between parent and child so that the relationship may be get better or heal and to help the child and parent with tools so each can communicate better with the other.
If a parent neither communicates with the other parent, or supports the child’s wishes instead of the custody order and takes no disciplinary action towards the child, a court is likely to find the parent in contempt of court if the parent who is being denied visitation seeks relief through the court system.
Our Collaborative Team is here to work together to help separating parents who divorce in Nevada resolve their disagreements efficiently and respectfully outside of family court. Our team works to keep legal, emotional, financial and child custody matters from hindering a resolution that is fair to both parties and any children.
We at Nevada Collaborative Divorce Professionals believe that when mutual respect and a resolve to manage differences are maintained through collaborative divorce, moving forward has a realistic basis for success. With the more positive divorce mediation process this promotes, new beginnings and opportunities can take place.
Contact our divorce attorneys in Reno and across Nevada today and see how our team can help you stay out of courtroom litigation.
Gloria M. Petroni grew up on a farm in Yerington, Nevada. Her Italian father, who came to the U.S. at just 16 years old, was determined to make a better life for himself, a trait he also instilled in his children. With her father’s determination in mind, Ms. Petroni became the first lawyer in her family. She takes her mission of providing excellent representation based upon trust and respect seriously as she works for her clients day after day. Ms. Petroni believes that every client is entitled to dignity and support from their law firm and from their lawyer, and to know that they are in a safe place where their confidential matters are protected in the highest regard. Outside of her practice, she enjoys outdoor sports such as wakeboarding, skiing, golfing, and hiking. She’s up for any new travel or outdoor adventure.