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Do parents have to comply even if their child refuses to go?

This is a question that is posed to family lawyers sadly all too often, surely I shouldn’t have to make my child go? 

The Court of Appeal though has highlighted how important it is for the children to ensure that they have wherever possible a relationship with both parents.  The Court of Appeal have confirmed the position that, if a child is refusing to see the other parent, the parent with whom the child resides needs to ensure that the child is encouraged to see their other parent the first instance.

This particular case had been before the courts since 2008. The children at the time of the application were nine and seven. Following an incident at the fathers involving his new partner, the two daughters refused any further contact with their father, save for indirect such as letters and cards.

Sadly the children were involved in litigation over a substantial period of time By the time the girls were 16 and 14, there had been several attempts by the court to encourage them to see their father, including the use of therapeutic work, however the children still refused to have anything but indirect contact with their father. As a consequence, a final order was made providing only for indirect contact and preventing father from issuing further applications.

On appeal, The Court of Appeal commented that the parents had ‘behaved in ways that were destructive to the prospect of contact’.

The court noted the following: ‘There are many things which they ought to do, that children may not want to do, or even refuse to do. Going to the dentist, going to visit some boring elderly relative, going to school, doing homework or sitting an examination, the list is endless. The parents’ job, exercising all their parental skills, techniques and stratagems – which may include use of both the carrot and the stick, to get the child to do what he does not want to do. The child’s refusal cannot, as such, be a justification for parental failure’.  Both parents were asked to look at their future and their future relationship with their children.

How can we help?

Parents on separation need to be encouraged to see matters from the view of their children both now and in the future.  How do they want their relationship with their children to be in the future and how do they want their relationship as parents to be in years to come. 

Our expert children lawyers and mediators can help you to work together to help your children and you co-parent.  Expert legal advice at an early stage is so important to ensure that you are taking steps that are in your children’s best interests.  We will help you to focus on solution based approaches that hopefully will enable your children to grow up having a relationship with you both.