People have many fears that may keep them from filing for divorce. One of the most common is the fear that their children will grow to hate them and will never want to see them again. Especially when there is bad blood between parents, the possibility is there for one parent to end up estranged from the rest of the family.
Many New Jersey parents try to struggle through an unhappy and unsatisfying marriage because they have convinced themselves that their relationship with their children is at risk. They worry that the children will ultimately side with the other parent and refused to spend any time with them.
Do you have to worry about your children refusing parenting time with you even if the courts award you shared custody rights in a New Jersey divorce?
Parents and children must abide by the custody order
The parenting plan or custody order entered in your divorce has the final say about how you and your ex divide your parental rights and responsibilities. Both parents have an obligation to comply with the terms outlined in the custody order, and they should also encourage the children to do the same.
Your ex should not tell you that the children refuse to see you because it is their responsibility to get the children ready for the custody exchange and to encourage them to maintain a healthy relationship with you. Parents must encourage the children’s compliance with the order, not positively reinforce non-compliant behaviors.
A judge could change your custody order because your ex allows the children to cancel your parenting time. The age of your children may play a role in whether or not they can cancel parenting time without causing problems for your ex.
Children under the age of eight typically do not have any legal rights to influence custody matters because they are too young to understand what would be in their own best interest. It is usually only after a child is at least 14 years of age that a judge will consider their opinion when setting custody terms or reviewing existing custody orders in a modification or enforcement.
Even when your children are teenagers, judges will likely expect them to spend time with you or to have a very good explanation for why they want time apart. Understanding what rules govern the outcome of challenging custody matters will help those worried about life after their divorce.