Why Children Resist Visitation

For children, one of the hardest parts of a divorce is experiencing the upending of established routines and needing to adapt to new realities. Although children can be very adaptable, it’s also understandable that there may be a significant and possibly difficult adjustment period. One of the biggest adaptations a child might need to make after a divorce is the adjustment to spending time with their parents in separate locations, at least one of which will likely be unfamiliar. 

Some children will make this adjustment fairly smoothly, but others will react differently. In some situations, a child might prefer to spend time with one parent rather than the other, and this may be based on a number of factors. In other cases, a child might be completely alienated from the non-custodial parent. In these less-than-ideal scenarios, children might resist visitation with their other parent. 

The factors at play in cases in which children resist or refuse visitation can be very serious. Exposure to domestic violence or to sexual, physical or emotional abuse can all make a child resistant to spending time with the non-custodial parent. There may be other, more benign factors as well — sometimes parents’ styles are very different from each other, and an overly harsh or overly permissive parenting style can influence which parent a child prefers to spend time with. 

It’s also important to consider the role of the child and both parents more broadly in evaluating a child’s resistance to visitation. Is there something in particular about the child that leads them to prefer one parent over the other? Does the non-custodial parent just not connect well with the child? Even the custodial parent’s behavior cannot be neglected, particularly if there’s a chance that their opinion of the other parent is influencing the child. 

If you have questions about custody and visitation or the divorce process in general, contact a knowledgeable Twin Cities divorce and family law attorney with Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart right away.

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