Whether two parties are married or not, if they are involved in a court battle involving custody and/or visitation, they likely have to deal with a visitation or parenting time schedule. Many parties will experience minor children not wanting to attend visitation with the “visiting” or “non-residential” parent. Children do not typically like change, and a lot of children don’t like being away from their home. This can make visitation exchanges particularly difficult. Teenagers and very young children often have the most difficulty. Teenagers, usually, want to be with their friends. Whether their parents live together or apart, they would rather be with their friends than a parent. This can make visitation difficult. Younger children sometimes experience separation anxiety or homesickness when visiting with the other parent. So, what happens if you don’t send your child with their other parent?
There can be detrimental consequences. First and foremost, some Judges will hold a parent in contempt of court for violating a visitation schedule, depending upon the circumstances. Other Judges will hold a party in criminal contempt when there are repeated, unsubstantiated offenses of visitation withholding or abuse. This could mean jail time for a parent that is not facilitating visitation.
Perhaps worse, is the possibility of a modification of residential custody of the minor child or children. It is imperative under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act that parents facilitate a relationship between the minor child or children and the non-residential parent. A parent that fails to facilitate visitation with the other parent stands at risk of losing residential custody of the child or children, depending upon the severity and circumstances of the situation.
Parents often wonder how they can help facilitate visitation when their children are reluctant to attend. It is the same as anything else in terms of discipline. You can make your kids do their homework and eat their vegetables, you should likewise be able to make them visit with the other parent. Facilitating a relationship between your children and their other parent (assuming there is no danger in doing so) is one of the best things you can do to ensure your children healthy and are functional members of society.