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What do you do when your teen avoids visitation?

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Teenagers are complicated people. Parents are often troubled by the sudden changes their children experience when they hit their teenage years — particularly when a child that was once very agreeable suddenly asserts his or her independence by disagreeing with just about everything, including the visitation schedule he or she has been following for years.

If you’re the parent whose visitation is being interrupted and you don’t know of any obvious reason your child would suddenly want to stay away, take heart. The odds are good that you’ve done nothing to cause the problem. Nor should you assume that your ex-spouse has suddenly encouraged your child to stop visiting. It’s most likely that your teenager is being…well, nothing more than a teenager.

A lot of teens start to resent having to pack up every weekend to go stay with their noncustodial parent. Even if you’ve always tried to make the weekends enjoyable, your teen may be developing other interests. He or she may start making weekend plans with friends — friends who don’t live as close to your ex-spouse’s home. Or, your child may simply be burdened with a lot of homework, particularly if he or she is in any accelerated-learning programs. Your child may also simply be going through a phase where he or she wants to spend more time alone, so the prospect of hanging with Mom or Dad all weekend just doesn’t sound as enjoyable as it did when he or she was younger.

What’s the best thing to do? Try these tips:

  1. Don’t react with anger. That will make it harder for your teen to be honest with you.
  2. Ask your teen how he or she would like the schedule to work. Make it clear that you expect to spend some time together, but be willing to negotiate a different visitation schedule for a while.
  3. Approach your ex-spouse about the proposed changes. If your ex has previously been supportive, there’s no reason to suspect that he or she will change.

It’s probably wisest to seek a post-decree modification of the custody order, just so there are no misunderstandings. The courts are generally receptive to changes that take into account the shifting reality of a child’s life, so it shouldn’t be difficult to obtain.

Source: LiveAbout, “What To Do When Children Fight Visitation After Divorce,” Cathy Meyer, accessed May 04, 2018

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