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Custody matters are among the most challenging issues to resolve when a child’s parents break up. When New Jersey parents finally agree to a parenting plan or a court orders a child custody arrangement, it may come after considerable tension and much compromise. Of course, most parents understand that conflicts will arise that require adjustments to the plan, but many do not expect those conflicts to come from a child who refuses to comply with the schedule.

Whether one is dealing with a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, a pre-teen testing the boundaries, or a teen in open defiance, knowing how to deal with the situation is critical. Ideally, both parents will communicate with each other when a child begins to resist the custody schedule to determine how best to work through it. A child may refuse to go with a co-parent on visitation or custody days for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Feeling resentment or confusion over the breakup
  • Refusing to be separated from friends or activities
  • Going through a stage where the relationship with the parent is strained
  • Resenting the rules one parent may enforce in the household
  • Rejecting the new love interest of the co-parent or others living with the co-parent

Allowing the child to stay home instead of complying with a court-ordered or court-approved child custody plan is risky, especially when there is no reason to fear for the child’s well-being. The noncustodial parent may be within his or her rights to pursue legal action, which could jeopardize the custodial parent’s custody rights. Parents who cannot work out the situation in the best interests of all involved may have to seek the intervention of the New Jersey courts.