Going through a divorce and facing the prospect of no longer seeing your child every day can be heartbreaking. Hearing that your child does not want to spend time with you during your court-ordered parenting time can be even more devastating.
When New Jersey courts develop child custody agreements, they do so with the intention of meeting all of the child’s needs. One of the child’s most critical needs is a consistent relationship with both of his or her parents. But what if the child does not want to have a relationship with one of his or her parents? Can the court force a relationship? The answer is maybe.
If your child is refusing to visit you because he or she is experiencing neglect or abuse from a member of your household, this could be an issue that can lead to a modification of your child custody order. Talk to your child about why he or she does not want to visit you. But in many cases, children are not always forthcoming with their reasons for wanting or not wanting to visit with a parent. If this is the case, be aware of the environment in your home and try to understand why your child might be avoiding your parenting time.
If it is clear that your child does not want to spend time with you because you are more strict than his or her other parent or your home does not have as many “fun things,” you and your former partner need to take a different approach to your child’s custody schedule. Document your child’s refusal to visit so your former partner can not use it as a reason to seek a modification to the custody order.
While you cannot physically force your child to spend time in your home or in the home of the other parent, you should attempt to comply with your custody order to the best of your ability to avoid a contempt of court charge. Please know that in the event that the court finds that you have not been sending your child to the other parent because the child is simply “running the show,” there have been cases where judges have simply given custody to the other parent since the court viewed the parent as being in contempt of the parenting time agreement and unable to uphold their part of the deal.
Do all that you can to maintain a relationship with your child – if your relationship does not include visits at the moment, keep in touch with him or her via social media, phone calls or even FaceTime/Skype. It can be easy to just let your relationship with your child lapse – do not let this happen. Make an effort to be an involved parent no matter how your child feels about you at this point in time.
Sometimes, legal intervention is necessary to repair a custody arrangement that is not working or go to court because the other parent is not following the parenting time agreement. In the event that you are in need of an attorney who will fight for your rights, contact The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. today at (732) 365-3299 to schedule your initial legal consultation with our firm to determine what you can do about your custody situation. We proudly serve clients in Monmouth, Mercer, Burlington, Middlesex, and Ocean counties.