Parenting Time: What Happens If A Child Refuses to Go to the Other Parent’s Home?

A substantially equal parenting time is in effect, and bags are packed. The only problem is that your child is refusing to get into the car to start their parenting time with the other parent. Now what? If your child is resisting going with the other parent, it can first be helpful to determine the underlying reason. Consider these questions:

  • What is your child’s stated reason for not wanting to go?
  • Does your child appear afraid, anxious, or sad?
  • Do you have any concerns regarding your child’s safety while with the other parent?
  • Have you prepared your child for being with the other parent, speaking about the experience with enthusiasm and encouragement?
  • Is it possible your child is perceiving your anxiety about the situation and is consequently having the same reaction?
  • Have you provided support for your child’s transition to the other home, such as completing fun activities in your home well in advance of other parent’s starting time for parenting?
  • Have you spoken to the other parent about your child’s behavior?
  • Can you provide anything that will make your child’s time with the other parent more comfortable, such as a favorite toy or blanket?
  • Have you established clear routines that support your child to be ready to go with the other parent with ease, such as packing a backpack or saying goodbye to a family pet?

The reason for a child’s reluctance to go with the other parent may be as simple as being sad about leaving you or as serious as being a victim of abuse in the other parent’s home. It is important to look at this closely to determine the best response.

Judges treat compliance with court orders for parenting time seriously. If one parent believes that the other is intentionally interfering with parenting time or the parent-child relationship, it can result in further litigation. At the same time, you want to know that your child is safe. Talk to your attorney about the best approach in your situation.

About the Author:

Marlene Pontrelli is a Member in our Phoenix office. Marlene is a certified specialist in family law. Her practice focuses on all aspects of family law including dissolution, post-dissolution, paternity, child custody and child support matters. She is admitted to practice in California and Arizona. She is a member of the State Bar’s Family Law Practice and Procedure Committee and is a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family law. She has extensive trial and appellate experience including appearing before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Arizona Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Pontrelli has written several books, including as a co-author of the Divorce in Arizona book. She is a frequent lecturer in the area of family law and has conducted workshops throughout the country. Ms. Pontrelli is also an adjunct professor at The Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University, where she teaches the family law class. Marlene may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5081.