You defer to your parenting plan for all of the major decisions regarding your children. However, when you show up to spend some time with the kids, your ex informs you that they don’t want to see you. Even though you drove across town to pick them up and already ordered takeout for dinner, you head home by yourself.
You may have left because you didn’t want to cause an altercation despite feeling hurt and angry about the refusal of your time with the children. Can the kids simply refuse to see you despite the custody order?
Parents should help the children comply with the order
As a parent, you often have to get your children to do things they would prefer not to because that would be what is best for them. Children and teenagers can be notoriously short-sighted and can prioritize short-term preferences over long-term well-being when making decisions.
Even if you and your child have recently had disagreements, your ex should still encourage them to spend time with you and to maintain a healthy relationship. If they do not facilitate your parenting time as they should, then you may need to go back to court.
You can modify your order or ask for enforcement
Depending on current arrangements and the reason your children give for refusing time with you, you may be able to ask the courts for help either enforcing the existing order or modifying it. If your child truly doesn’t want to see you, that can influence how the judge rules.
Judges sometimes need to factor a child’s inability to look at the big picture when deciding how much weight to give their wishes during custody proceedings, including modification hearings and enforcement actions. Children who are 14 years of age or older can assert themselves to a judge if they feel strongly about their custodial arrangements. A judge does not have to follow their preferences, especially if the judge believes that acquiescing would not be in the best interests of the child.
Sometimes, if you can show that your ex has lied about the children wanting to spend time with you or has intentionally turned the children against you by talking poorly about you frequently, you may receive more parenting time to compensate for the attempts at parental alienation. Sometimes, a refusal to see one parent is a short-term issue that a conversation or a few days will resolve. Other times, you may need to assert yourself as a parent within the family or within the family court system.
Knowing when to take assertive action in a shared custody scenario will help California parents struggling to spend time with their children.