Or, in other words, what to do when a child won't go to parenting time. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend the Family Law Forum at Travis Pointe Country Club which addressed this very issue. In attendance were Judges, attorneys, and mental health professionals who discussed how to solve this dilemma.
First and foremost, the courts do not want to make the decisions for your family. The best resolution comes from the parties themselves. There are times in in-tact families when children prefer one parent over the other. This is natural. What isn't natural is when one parent uses their anger at the other parent to alienate the child from the other parent.
We must remember that a child has the right to a strong relationship with both parents. Each parent has an obligation to foster and encourage a strong relationship between the child and the other parent.
Obviously there are certain situation where parenting time might endanger the child either physically, emotionally, or mentally. In those instances a parent has a duty to protect the child and they must do so.
However, if your child just doesn't want to go to the other parent because he's missing his friends at your house, or you don't want them to go because the other parent has a new partner, these are poor reasons to interfere with parenting time and could cause an enforcement action.
If your child is exhibiting anxiety, doing poorly in school, abusing substances or engaging in other dangerous behavior, it's time to talk to the ex and get your child, and the family in counseling. Remember, you are still a family, just living in separate homes.
And finally feel free to call your favorite family law attorney to discuss the issues and discuss options. And please, love your child more than you hate your ex!