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Can a child refuse to see the other parent after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2024 | Parenting Time |

Children can significantly benefit from having a relationship with both parents. This dual bond aids in their overall development and well-being. In fact, a 2023 Cambridge study finds that shared parenting leads to fewer emotional and conduct problems.

However, after a divorce, a child might hesitate or even outright refuse to spend time with one parent. What can the family do in this case?

At what age can a child influence parenting time decisions?

In Michigan, determining parenting time can be a complicated and emotional process. While parents typically receive the initial decision-making powers, the child’s preferences can carry weight in the outcome.

However, there is no specific age at which a minor child automatically gains a say in these decisions. A child can only unilaterally refuse to see a parent at the age of 18 or when a child gains emancipation and legally becomes an adult.

Judges have the task of determining the weight of a child’s expressed preferences by considering a range of factors, including their maturity level, reasoning ability and living circumstances. Ultimately, the best interests of the child are the top priority, and judges work to balance the child’s wishes with their overall well-being.

What can someone do if a child refuses to see or visit the co-parent?

If a child suddenly refuses to visit the other parent, all parties do well to consider the child’s best interests and maintain a positive co-parenting relationship. One approach could be to explore the root cause of the child’s refusal, such as unresolved conflicts or changes in the parent’s behavior.

It may also be beneficial to seek the assistance of a therapist or mediator to help facilitate communication and find a solution that benefits all parties. Whatever the underlying reason, adults should listen to the child’s concerns while providing reassurance and support.

If any concern of abuse, manipulation or parental alienation comes to light, patient and gentle investigation of such accusations becomes necessary. A modification of the custody agreement could be in order.

Ultimately, the goal is to create a healthy and supportive co-parenting dynamic that meets a child’s needs. By focusing on their well-being and keeping lines of communication open, parents can work together to provide a stable and loving environment for their children.