Florida has a relatively pragmatic approach to child custody matters. The state presumes that time-sharing arrangements that give both parents liberal access to the children will be in the best interests of the children. In other words, unless there is evidence of abuse or neglect, most families with parents that live separately will share custody between two households because that is what would be the best arrangement for the children.
Parenting plans reflect what the adults in the situation believe would be best for the children in the family. The truth is that children don’t always know what is best for themselves and can make choices that are very short-sighted. Teenagers, in particular, may let their emotions get the better of them when giving input on custody matters.
If you have recently had a disagreement with your child, can they refuse to spend time with you as outlined in your parenting plan?
The courts are unlikely to end your time sharing rights
Technically, even if your child is uncooperative, it is the other parent’s responsibility to have them ready for the custody exchange as scheduled in your parenting plan. If they want to deviate from that plan, they will need to go back to court to ask for a modification.
A family law judge typically expects to hear a solid justification for making a drastic change, such as the elimination of one parent’s time with the children. During a custody modification hearing, a judge can consider the preferences of the child. The child’s maturity and the reasoning behind their request will influence how much weight the judge gives their preference. In most cases, a judge might reduce parenting time but will most likely not eliminate it.
Protecting your parental rights is the first step toward rebuilding that relationship. If your child refuses to spend time with you, the two of you will have a very hard time reconnecting and rebuilding your damaged bond. You need to know your rights and assert them, including working with the other parent to encourage your child to spend time with you.
Insisting on your parenting time while also respecting their preferences when possible can be a way to make time-sharing arrangements work for your family despite a strange relationship with your child.