Facilitating a co-parenting relationship after a separation can be a challenging process. It is critical to follow the plan agreed to between you and the other parent. Alternatively, if Court Orders have been made, you and the other parent are each bound by the terms of the Orders. 

However, matters can be complicated in the event that the other parent says that your child is refusing to see you after separation. There are several things to consider, should this situation arise.

Maintain positive communication with the other parent

Even though you may be upset by the assertion that your child is refusing to see you after separation, it is important to remain calm and communicate with the other parent. Volatile communication will only be detrimental to your co-parenting relationship and the child’s relationship with each parent. Never post or share information related to your parenting matters over social media, as it could end up in Court. 

Opening a dialogue with the other parent will enable you to understand the reasons why your child is refusing to see you. That way, specific changes may be made to address any concerns raised by the child. Maintaining positive communication with the other parent can also foster a beneficial ongoing co-parenting relationship.

You may be able to reach an agreement to alter specific terms of your agreement/plan or change the days in which your child is to spend time with you. The other parent may also agree to encourage the child to resume spending time with you through phone calls or video chats. This may provide a more comfortable environment for the child to spend time with you. In time, this may progress back into physical contact.

Responsibility of your co-parent to encourage contact

Your co-parent has a responsibility to encourage your child to spend time with you, pursuant to your agreement. Furthermore, your co-parent is required to notify you when your child is refusing to see you. There may be mitigating circumstances for why your child is refusing. For example, your child may have a special event or birthday they wish to attend which coincides with your scheduled time.

Talk to your child

Depending on the circumstances, talking with your child may also help identify the reasons why they are refusing to spend time with you. This can be a casual conversation by phone or text message. Your child may be hesitant to spend time with you for a number of reasons. For example:

  1. They may not be comfortable spending time with your new partner;
  2. Your child may not be familiar with the new area where you are;
  3. Your child may disagree with the parenting arrangements that have been agreed to between you and the other parent.

Engaging in an informal conversation with your child can assist you with identifying alternative solutions to the parenting arrangements. This may also benefit your co-parenting relationship with the other parent in the future.

Maintain records

You should also maintain records of occasions when your child has refused to spend time with you. For example, you could create a journal to document the date and reasons why the scheduled contact did not take place. This may be useful if you need to provide this information to your lawyer, to facilitate make up time with your child in the future.

Family Therapy

Engaging in Family Therapy may also assist in addressing specific reasons why your child is refusing to see you after separation. Family Therapy is a form of psychological counselling to assist family members in improving communication and resolving conflicts. Your family may pursue family therapy to help identify specific concerns of the child with regarding to parenting arrangements.

Additionally, Family Therapy may assist you and the other parent to develop a plan which focuses on the best interests of the child. The primary concern in all parenting matters is to ensure the child is provided with a stable, safe and healthy living environment. This can often be achieved through Family Therapy.

When there are Court Orders

If there are Court Orders in place, both yourself and your partner are bound by the specific terms of the Orders. Therefore, and subject to extenuating circumstances, your partner has an obligation to facilitate the time allocated for your child to spend with you.

If they are not complying with these Orders, then you are able to file an application to bring your matter back to Court to ensure that the time with your child proceeds. However, it is important to consider the reasons why your child is refusing to spend time with you, prior to bringing your matter back to Court.

This article is intended as general information only. It is not legal advice. For more information, book an appointment or contact our Family Law team on (03) 9435 9044.