Can your kids refuse your court-ordered parenting time?

One of the biggest issues in a Colorado divorce will be how you split your parental rights and responsibilities with your ex. Making sure that you get enough parenting time with your kids was probably a major priority when you first negotiated the terms of your divorce with your ex or when you went to court to litigate.

Now that you have a parenting plan on record, you may feel like your parental rights are secure until something challenges them. You may go to pick up your kids one day, only to have them refuse, claiming that they don’t want to spend time with you.

Can your children choose not to go with you during your court-appointed parenting time?

Yes, the preferences of older children do matter

In theory, each parent should do their best to convince the children to comply with the terms of the existing parenting plan. Your ex should encourage the children to spend time with you even if your relationship with them or the kids isn’t in the best place right now.

Unfortunately, some parents will play into the disputes their children have with their ex to interfere in the relationship. Talking poorly about the other parent and contributing to the divide between parent and child is a common form of parental alienation. It can also be more difficult to prove, especially if your children are older and claim that their requests stem from their own preferences.

When does your child’s wish matter more than the custody order?

Under Colorado law, a judge considering either the initial parenting plan for a divorcing couple or a modification request will have to consider what is best for the children. They may factor in the living preferences of the children if the judge believes the children are old and mature enough for their preferences to matter.

Often, this means that children over the age of 14 could ask to reduce their visitation with one parent. However, the judge will usually want to keep both parents involved, as that is typically what is best for the kids. If they see one parent trying to deny the other access or turn the children against their ex, that could impact how they rule on custody matters.

Asking a judge to preserve your parenting time even if they slightly reduce it can help you weather the temporary storm of teenage disputes with your children while remaining actively involved as you share custody after a divorce.