I am wondering how visits work with teenagers because you can not force them to live with a certain parent or have visits.
How do visits work with teenagers
I don't know what I will do, but I do not see myself ever forcing my SC.
I would never force my SC. I don't see my husband doing that either. But I would see where my husband would not try as hard if the child wasn't trying to have a relationship with him. But I could see where if the father wasn't actively trying to be involved, where the child would think out of sight out of mind. It is HIS responsibility to make sure that line of communication and "special" activities when the child is with dad would be on him.
I've been wondering about this, because my 10 year old has started to get pretty lukewarm about going to see his grandparents, who have 'grandparents rights' visits for 6 hours each month. For now, telling him that nothing exciting is going on at home anyway has convinced him to go. When he starts to really object, I'll let them know that I'm having trouble getting him to agree to go via email, to start a paper trail. I think the main objection for a teenager will be that they don't want to 'waste' their weekend, and I'll suggest they try taking the kids out for supper during the week instead. Or I'll make whatever suggestion I think will help for them to make visits something he'd agree to. If the insist on having a weekend visit, I'll require DS to tell them himself that he isn't going. It's a little different with grandparents than with another parent, but I don't think you can go too wrong if you can show that you are trying to help both your kid and the adult find a mutually enjoyable arrangement.
Here in CA, at least in my county, teens do not really have much of a say so. A judge may take their desires into consideration, but typically they will not just allow visits to stop just because the child doesn't want to go. My ex and I are flexible with our almost 10yo...and when he is older if there are certain events that he wants to participate in at his dads during my time, and vice versa, I have no problem with that. If he suddenly wanted to stop going to his dads for no good reason, I would not allow him to just stay home. I would address the problem, if there was one. Often with teens, it's more an issue of which parent is "easier" or more fun rather than truly being unhappy at a parents house. And unless there were safety concerns, I would make my teen go because firstly, it is a court order and I won't violate that, and secondly, the other house may not be fun, but so what? Life isn't fun every day, and kids don't get to make the rules. Of course, if there were some real concerns, that is a whole different story.
I may sound harsh, but I think that putting kids in a position of choosing which parent they would rather be with puts them into a bad spot, and is unfair to both parents as well.
Think about the reverse situation... My step-daughter (9) lives with her mom during the school year and comes to us here every school break, as well as monthly weeks or long weekends in mom's state. For the last year my step-daughter has become more and more resistant to returning to her mom's house afterward. There have been times when she says she isn't going, and even refuses to get out of the car. But it is not a choice for us to just say "well, she doesn't want to go, so I guess she'll just stay with us this time." No one would ever think that was okay. But it seems easier for people to feel like, "well, you can't force them to go if they don't want to. That would be cruel"... but that is exactly what we have been doing every single time we take her to mom's.
So, since we recognize that parenting time isn't a choice, what we do is try to figure out what isn't working for her, and try to make it better. We talk about WHY she doesn't want to and do our best to help whatever circumstances we can. We are understanding and sympathetic about her feelings and validate her right to feel that way. We are reassuring about her going and help her understand when she will be back with us. We do't give her the impression that it is her choice, we remind her that it is important to spend time with both families and remind her of all the great/fun things at the other house. We try to be flexible when we can, we advocate for her as best we can, and we try to help her advocate for herself (for example, if she wants more video chats with us, we help her to figure out how to talk to her mom about that). And we look at the overall custody schedule and try to figure out if it is still meeting her changing needs, and whether or not we need to fight for a change that will meet her needs better. Those are all things the custodial parent can do, too, when the resistance is to going to the non-custodial parent's house.