Encouraging parental visits

On Behalf of | Jul 29, 2021 | Parental Alienation

Custody matters have legal and emotional complications. Couples should not engage in parental alienation or pressure their children to remain separated from their other parent.  Parents must also take steps to encourage reluctant children to visit their other parent unless there are health and safety issues.

Legal obligations

Courts issue custody and visitation orders that set forth specific days and times, vacations, and holidays for each parent’s visit with their children. Courts may find that a parent violated these orders and withheld visitation if the child refuses in a visit. This could even constitute grounds for contempt of court charges against the custodial parent.

Courts considers the child’s age. Parents have less authority and physical control as children grow up. For example, it is almost impossible to carry a teenager and place them in the car. Younger children are more prone to separation anxiety.

The parent who is denied visitation may claim that the other custodial parent is engaged in parental alienation and coaching the child to refuse to visit. A court finding of parental alienation may lead to custody changes.


A parent with a reluctant child should keep records containing the dates of refusals, its circumstances, and their efforts to convince the child to go on the visit. Parents should not discuss the possibility of a parent going to jail.

Changing the circumstances may be helpful. For example, the custodial parent can take their child to the other parent. Prepare for these visits by discussing the fun events that will occur. Do not take the child away from play dates or other fun activities to go on the visit.


Children may have a valid health or safety reason, such as abuse or mistreatment, for refusing to visit. Consider having a child psychologist examine the child. The other parent may have to agree to this, however.

Typical reasons for refusal also include different disciplinary rules in the two households. Children may also dislike new stepparents and siblings or their parent’s significant other.

Speak to the child about their refusal. Provide assurance that both parents love them and want to spend their time with them. Point out positive attributes of both parents and the importance of having a relationship with them.

Plan with the other parent

You should discuss visitation options with the other parent. These can include making the visits shorter, developing activities that the children will enjoy and keeping a stepparent away from disciplining the child. Parents should also try to coordinate matters such as bedtimes, homework schedules, and meal, television, and videogame times.

Attorney can assist parents in custody and parental alienation disputes. They can help assure that your interests are protected.