Separation and Divorce

When a Child Doesn't Want to See a Parent


Your child doesn’t want to spend time with his or her mother or father and gets very upset when it’s time to visit. Should you force your child to see the other parent, or respect the child’s choice?

What should you do if your child doesn’t want to see the other parent?

A parent with custody of a child must encourage the child to see the other parent. If the child still doesn’t want to go, then it’s important to consider these factors:

  • the child’s age
  • why the child doesn’t want to visit the other parent

Usually, the older the child, the more the child’s opinion counts. This doesn’t mean that an older child will always get his way and a younger child won’t. In cases like this, it is important to learn the reasons for the child’s behaviour.

Respect your child’s wishes.

A parent with custody who refuses to respect the visiting rights awarded in a court decision might find himself in contempt of court, and the other parent could ask for a change in custody.

Therefore, the parent with custody must have a serious reason for refusing to let the child see the other parent.

The parent who has custody can go to court to ask that the other parent’s visiting rights be changed or cancelled, or that the visits be supervised.

If the court allows the change, cancellation or supervision, this ensures the following:

Find a solution together.

The parents should try to find a solution together so that the child feels better and eventually decides on his own to spend time with the other parent.

The child might need a professional’s help to adjust to his parents’ breakup. Also, the visiting rights awarded in the court decision might not be appropriate for his current situation.

The parents can agree on changes to the visiting rights to make sure the child’s new needs are being met. They can put everything into an agreement and go to court to have the agreement converted into a court decision.

For more information, see our article Changes in Child Custody.

Divorce: Vocabulary Change in the Law

Since March 1, 2021, the Divorce Act no longer uses the terms “custody” or “access”. The law now uses the term “parenting time” to describe a divorced parent’s relationship with a child of the marriage. For more information, see our article Divorce: What Is “Parenting Time” and What to Do When Moving.