What can I do if my children are refusing to see the other parent?
It can be difficult to know what to do if your children are refusing to see their other parent, but there are some steps you can take which may help. Child law specialist Dawn Gore explains.
If your children are saying that they do not want to see their other parent, one of the first steps is to establish the reason why. Quite often, it may be a relatively minor issue with the other parent which can be resolved, for example that they find the time they spend with that parent boring or perhaps they are worrying about you when they spend time with their other parent.
Whilst it is important that you ensure the children understand they have been heard, it is essential that they are not burdened with the adult responsibility of decision-making. If your children are willing to explain to you the concerns they have about spending time with the other parent, you should discuss those concerns with the other parent and find a way to resolve them so that you can reassure your children that they have been listened to and things have changed.
Children have a right to enjoy a meaningful relationship with both parents and it is important that you act quickly if issues arise which might lead to them not spending time with the other parent. If you find it difficult to discuss matters directly with the other parent, a qualified mediator can assist you both with those discussions in a safe, neutral and child-focused environment.
If your children do not feel comfortable discussing their concerns directly with you, perhaps they can talk to another trusted adult – an aunt or uncle; a grandparent or a teacher. Otherwise, a mediator who is specially qualified to conduct child-inclusive mediation may be able to assist.
Court proceedings are often not the most appropriate route for these types of cases as they do not necessarily involve legal issues that need to be resolved. As parents, you will lose control of the outcome as you have placed that responsibility in the hands of the Court and whilst the Court will place your children’s welfare as its paramount consideration when determining whether an order is necessary and will determine the terms of the order to be made, it could take many months for a decision to be reached. The order may then be extremely restrictive and create more difficulties and tensions between you both.
Sometimes however, there may be safeguarding issues that need professional investigation and an application to Court may prove necessary in order to ensure that your children are kept safe from harm.
If you are unsure as to how best to proceed, the Family team at Trethowans offer an initial half hour free consultation so that you can receive advice as to the options available to you. If mediation seems the way forward for your family, we have a number of qualified Mediators who can assist. Please call us on 023 8032 1000.