Can A Child Refuse To See Their Parent?
Posted on 2nd April 2020
You spent months agreeing a set contact agreement with your former spouse. The same has been seen and approved by the Family Court, and, for a while it worked well; you settled into your new routine, all is good in the world.
However, what happens your child reaches an age where they start making their own decisions, such as they no longer want to visit with your former spouse, instead they want to see friends or even stay home? How do you deal with this, and can you get in trouble for not sticking to a Child Arrangements Order?
What is a Child Arrangement Order?
Our family solicitors in Preston and Lancaster deal with many child- arrangement Orders, on a monthly basis. Firstly, for those wondering, a Child Arrangements Order, is a Court approved contact schedule. It will lay out where the child lives and on when they are to see the other parents. A Child Arrangements Order can also confirm plans for important dates, such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Birthdays. Once the Order is approved, the Order must be stuck to. Should you find that the other party is not sticking to the schedule then you are within your right to make an application to the Court to enforce the Order, this will of course incur further fees, and further hearings. Should you and your former spouse wish to change the arrangements between yourself and you are both in agreement to them, then you are able to do so without the consent of the Court.
Are my child’s feeling taken in consideration when making the Order?
Each case is completely different. Depending on the age and the circumstances then a child’s feelings can be taken into consideration when making an Order, of course the Court would always encourage that a relationship is maintained with between the child and their parent, where it is safe to do so.
It would be very tricky to ask a 3 -year -old what they want, however older children are able to express their feelings in a “letter to the Judge”.
What do I do when my Child no longer want to visit?
Naturally, as children grow older, they prefer to spend time with their friends and doing their own activities over spending time with their parents. They want to be independent. This can be upsetting and frustrating when you have a Child Arranges in Order stating weekend contact.
As your local Family Solicitors in Preston, we would urge you to speak with your child and ask why they are no longer wishing to visit their other parent, are they just wanting to spend more time with friends, are they unhappy when in the care of your former spouse.
We would suggest that your child is open and honest with their parent, explain their own thoughts and feelings, as a parent is it your job to listen and consider the thoughts of the Child, if it is simply a case of the child is simply growing up and wishing to be more independent then there are ways round the issue. The child can be allowed to spend the time with their friends then go onto overnight contact or switch the days.
Is it a case of the child doesn’t like to leave you alone, maybe they feel bad and that you will be lonely without then, or maybe your parenting styles differ, is the other parent too strict while you’re more relaxed?
Sometimes simply sitting down and talking with your child can resolve the issue, reassure them they will not be made to anything they feel uncomfortable doing and that they do not have to feel bad about spending time with the other parent.
We would also urge that your stick to the agreed Order as much as you possible can, this will give your child a routine which may help with resistance of contact. If the child only resists contact a few times, then our family law solicitors would advise that there is no need to get the Court involved again.
However, if the child is adamant that they no longer want contact with one of their parents, or they are no longer happy with the arrangements then either parent can apply to the Court to either amend or enforce the Order. The Court will consider the situation and decide whether it is the child’s best intertest to change or enforce the same.
If a child is older, for example 15/16 then it would be difficult for the case to be taken back to Court as essentially at this age they are able to make their own decisions. You will not get in to trouble if your child chooses not to honour contact, so long as you have encouraged them to participate with contact.
If you require any further advice then do not hesitate to contact one of the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01524 581306
MG Legal - Your Local Solicitors
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