All children obviously benefit from having both parents in their lives.
Children of divorce (or when parents are no longer together) should have the same benefit. However, there are instances where the non-custodial parent may go against the parenting plan and refuse visitation.
Wait, she can do that?
Refusing visitation or not exercising their visitation rights means that the non-custodial parent has decided to no longer visit or spend time with the child.
While a court may have ordered visitation rights, the non-custodial parent can choose if they want to exercise those rights.
Yes, it is their choice.
You cannot make her accept visitation.
A non-custodial parent may choose to not exercise their visitation rights for several reasons, including the following:
- The influence of other people
- Unresolved anger or bitterness towards the custodial parent
- Feeling that their opinions are not considered
- Insecure of their parenting abilities
- Feeling intimidated by the other parent
- Simply not wanting to be a part of the child’s life
Is this the same thing as parental alienation?
Not exercising visitation rights is not the same as parental alienation.
Parental alienation is when a parent purposely withholds the child from the non-custodial parent.
Manipulation, brainwashing and bad-mouthing are tools often used when one parent alienates the child from the other parent.
What can I do if my ex is not choosing to see or spend time with our child?
Of course, the first thought that comes to mind is to race back to court.
While that could be a solution, ask yourself what exactly are you trying to accomplish.
Are you doing this to benefit your child or do you have a different motive?You may be able to modify a parenting plan but you cannot modify someone else's behavior. Tweet This!
I am not a lawyer, never played one on TV either but I am someone who has experienced being in visitation gridlock (a nice term I coined to describe the lack of visitation I’ve experienced with my child’s dad).
When I experienced visitation gridlock with my child’s parent, I was angry that I could be held in contempt if I did not make the child available for visitation. However, it was her father’s decision IF he wanted to pick her up for visitation.
At that point, I decided that my sanity was far more important than fighting in court, trying to make someone do something they obviously did not want to do. Your situation may be different from mine so please be sure to do what is beneficial for you and your family.
Try these sanity savers if you’re experiencing visitation gridlock:
- Make the most of your time with our child. Life does not stop just because your ex is refusing visitation. Yes, this means that the child will be with you 100% of the time. Spend this time to continue strengthening your relationship with your child.
- Don’t waste time bad-mouthing your child’s absent parent. It’s not your job to paint an unflattering picture of your ex to your child. As the child grows, they will paint their own picture based on who has been present in their lives.
- Depending upon the child’s age, tailor your conversations about the other parent. Your objective is to ensure that your child is priority one and that they are loved.
- Cleanse yourself of any bitterness or anger you may be harboring against your child’s parent. Bitterness and anger can block other good things from entering into your life.
- If you are parallel parenting, you may want to avoid trying to talk to your child’s other parent about their absence. “Talking” in a parallel parenting relationship should be in the form of a well-constructed email. Such an email is void of emotion, but fact-filled.
Again, everyone’ situation is different. There may be reasons for you to petition the court.
If you decide to move in that direction, please remember:
- To modify the parenting plan if necessary. Just as every situation is different, states may have different laws. Be prepared, it may or may not be as simple as you hope.
- To modify child support if necessary. A part of child support is calculated based on the amount of time the child spends with the non-custodial parent. If the non-custodial parent has chosen to not exercise their visitation rights, it is possible to have the child support order modified. Again every state and everyone’s situation is different.
It is tough to see through the emotional side of having a non-custodial parent not exercising their visitation rights.
It is important though to move through this stage of high conflict
Stuck in visitation gridlock? Join our conversation in our private Facebook group.