When parents separate and get divorced, it can be a particularly distressing time for children.
They may be uncertain about their future, where they’re going to live, and how often they will be spending time with each parent.
Sometimes, a child will ask not to spend time with one of their parents, even if there are court orders in place.
Can I child ever refuse to see their parent? In some cases, yes, but it’s a complicated situation.
Under the law, there’s no set age when children can decide where they live or who they spend time with or communicate with.
It’s up to both parents to encourage the child to keep seeing the other parent, unless of course the child would be at risk.
Courts will consider the child’s age. In Australia, a child is legally a minor until they turn 18 however, the views of older children will generally be given more weight.
A family report or mediation might help the court to consider the child’s level of maturity. A report can be provided to the court regarding your child’s understanding of the current parenting situation.
Keep in mind that you are the adult in charge in this situation, not your child. You can absolutely consider your child’s opinion but try and convey to them that they are loved by both parents, and it’s important to spend time with each of you.
You may also want to consider how your own behaviour might be influencing your child. Talking badly about your former partner in front of your children, or interrogating them about the other parent when they get home could be making your child hesitant about seeing your ex.
Talk to your child about why they don’t want to go and try and respond kindly and without judgement.
Communicate with your ex about what’s going on, and work together to create a plan for handling the situation. Encouraging your co-parent to reach out to your child through phone calls or video chats can provide a way for them to connect with your child in a low-stress environment.
It can also help to make parenting transitions as smooth as possible
Before your child leaves to visit or stay for an extended time with your co-parent, make sure they have everything they need packed and ready to go.
Keep the conversation positive, helping your child to look forward to that time instead of dreading it. Stay calm during handover time and keep interactions short and reassuring for your children.
If you’re experiencing any issues relating to child custody, parenting plans, or family reports, please contact GLG Legal Springfield on: (07) 3288 3511. Our experts are here to guide you through this time.