What if the custodial parent refuses to co-operate with child contact decisions?
If a custodial parent refuses to co-operate with the child contact decisions as set out by a Court what can be done about this? Are punitive measures carried out sufficiently by the Court? We will begin with a typical case illustration before turning to the choices that the Court has, and an Expert Witnesses’ views, on how to deal with such a situation.
Mrs Y had for some years been resolute in not granting contact between her two children and their father despite the Court ruling to grant such contact. As an Expert Witness dealing with such matters by providing expert evidence and advice to the Court, one is often faced with such controversial matters which have to be sorted out by the Judiciary. Psychological experts are not permitted to make decisions such as: 1) punitive measures to make Mrs Y co-operate with the Court ruling of granting contact to a father; 2) removing the children into care for a time or recommending this in order to treat the indoctrination such children have received from the custodial parent against the now absent parent; 3) deciding to fine or imprison the non co-operative parent and/or changing the residence of children to reside with the non custodial parent or members of his/her family. This is the role of the Judiciary and not the Expert Witness.
(Most parents who fail to co-operate with court rulings on contact arrangements are mothers, but 20% or so are fathers. Furthermore custodial parents frequently indoctrinate or brainwash children against having good contact with an absent parent usually the father).
Mrs Y always thought she had a reason for putting off contact arrangements. Some of the ploys used were:
- The children did not want to see their father or have anything to do with him. ( In this case Mrs Y had worked hard to turn the children against the father. It must also be said that the children witnessed some upsetting scenes of threats by the father against the mother and possibly physical domestic violence on both sides.)
- The mother, Mrs Y, claimed that she had to work and could not comply with either contact arrangements or mediation recommended by the Court. (This was only admitted following the Court decision allowing contact and when arrangements were being made for mediation and contact visits to be arranged and monitored.)
- Mrs Y also claimed that the children would not want to attend contact sessions because they would miss school and/or needed to do their homework, or be out with their friends.
- When mediation was arranged Mrs Y also tried to put obstacles in the way of attending at the times specified due to excuses such as: having to work, too short notice to arrange the meeting, the children needed to be at school etc.
(Those who seek control of children over contact with the absent parent will frequently use any excuse or reason why children should have as little contact as possible, or no contact at all, with the absent parent, claiming that this is the wish of the children. One can only say this is at best taking unfair advantage of the position of being a custodial parent, and at worst, a form of emotional abuse since the custodial parent has created the situation where the children want little or no contact with the absent parent,( usually the father). Had such children been required for medical or dental treatment there would have been no question about them attending for this.)