When parents separate and a court order related to custody and parenting time is issued, it can be difficult for everyone involved. While parents are often divided on the issue, once a judgment is issued, the law requires that parties adhere to it. However, while the adults may be willing to abide, a resistant child may put up a fight about visiting the non-custodial parent, or remaining with the custodial parent. At The Law Office of Heather M. Ward, we understand how challenging this can be. Here’s a look into what you can do if your child is refusing to attend court ordered parenting time with the other parent in Massachusetts, and how our law firm can help—

The Basics of Parenting Time and Custody Laws in Massachusetts

Two of the most important things to know about parenting time and custody laws in Massachusetts are that 1) the court is obligated to issue a judgment that upholds the best interests of the child, and 2) once a judgment is issued, it is legally binding. That being said, there are a variety of different arrangements that a court could find appropriate, and parents are encouraged to work together to present a parenting plan to the court. For example, parents may split parenting time 50/50, one parent may have a child for the majority of the time and the other parent is granted parenting time, or, in rare cases, the parental visitation rights of one parent may be terminated altogether. 

What If a Child Is Refusing Visitation Time?

Even when parents are willing to follow a parenting plan, a child may be resistant. While the law considers anyone under age 18 a minor and therefore unable to make legal decisions on their own behalf, for parents, it can be difficult to “force” parenting time when a child is refusing to go. The level of this difficulty can look different depending on the age of the child. For example, a five-year-old can still be coaxed (or forced) into parenting time, whereas a 15-year-old may be much more resistant and able to physically refuse. What can parents do when this happens?

  • Child therapy and support. If a child is refusing parenting time with one parent, forcing them to go may not be the best course of action; however, if a parent gives into a child’s refusal, they could face legal penalties if they are in breach of a court order. As such, both parents should work together to create a plan that best supports the child. Often, this will involve talking to a child to determine the cause of their disinterest in visitation and perhaps involving a child psychologist who can provide additional therapy and support. 
  • Modification of a court order. Depending on the circumstances and the age of the child, modifying the child custody order may also be appropriate. The court allows for modification of such judgments when there has been a significant change in circumstance, which may be the case in your situation. When a child has reached an age where they possess the maturity to articulate a position on custody, a judge may take their opinion into consideration. 

Call Attorney Heather M. Ward Today

To get help with your child custody case, call Attorney Heather M. Ward. We know how sensitive and challenging family law matters can be and are here to support you. Reach out online or at (617) 903-8955 today.