This is a question many parents have to consider at some point after a separation.
As parents try to co-parent effectively and create a contact schedule that works well for everyone, an added frustration can often be the child refusing to attend. So what should you do? Here, one of our Child Contact Solicitors in Glasgow discusses the relevant issues. For child contact legal advice please call 0141 673 0188 or complete our online contact form.
As simple as it sounds, the first thing any parent should do is talk to your child. Ask them why they don’t want to go. Do they have concerns or worries? The reasons for reluctance to go to contact can be varied but it’s important to listen to what your child has to say, and try to understand the situation from their point of view.
If the situation can’t be resolved, and the case has to go to court, then the views of the child are one of the factors that the Sheriff will take into account. How much influence the child’s view will have depends on the age of the child and their reasons – obviously the court is not going to sanction something that could put the child in an unsafe situation.
The second thing to consider is speaking to your former partner about what the child is saying. When parents separate both have an obligation to positively promote contact with the other, and that includes trying to be open and co-operative. Therefore, it’s important to listen to the child and try to alleviate any worries the child has by raising them with the other parent. This could be a good opportunity to co-parent. If the child can see that their concerns are being discussed within the new “family unit”, this could help him or her come to terms with the separation, and accept the new arrangements.
If an agreement can be reached, then there may not be any need for the court to become involved. But if there have been problems after separation, then drawing up a legal agreement can be a way of putting down in writing how any differences will be addressed in future, so that both parents know where they stand. The mechanism for resolution can be as simple as consulting with each other, or can involve bringing in specialist mediators.
If the case has been to court already, you should be careful that you are not going to breach a court Order by stopping contact, as this can have serious consequences.
At whatever stage matters take a turn for the worst, the most important thing is to have access to people who have experience of the family courts and dealing with the full range of issues that can arise after a separation.
*Marielle Hunter is a solicitor within our Family Law Practice Unit. Marielle completed her LLB (Hons) and Diploma in Legal Practice at Strathclyde University and recently joined the firm after completing her traineeship. Marielle deals with a large range of family disputes, with a particular interest in child contact matters.