Kids not wanting visitation with their dad

I have primary custody of my 14 and 17 yr. old children. In the last few years, I constantly am faced with them NOT wanting to spend their visitation with their dad. He has them the standard 1 night per week and every other weekend. Although, in the last year, he has remarried. They have seen him pawn them off on others so he can go do things with his new wife. He will have someone else pick them up on his night or go out of town and leave them with their older adult brother and sister from his previous marriage. They are not in “harms way” by any means; although the lifestyle of their dad and new step mother is quite different than what they experience at home as far as drinking in the house, much more liberal views, etc. and the kids voice their opinions to me about this. They know the difference between right and wrong and are smart kids so I can only hope they are never swayed by some of the inappropriate behavior they witness. My question being, how long do they really have to go to his house? I am not prohibiting them from going by any means. It’s just a constant battle of them complaining that they have to go. I tell them that I am out of the equation and there is nothing I can do about it; he is their dad. He is at the point where he has really pushed them away and not sure how to handle this with them other than encouraging them to go spend their visitation with them until they are 18 and then they are free to spend or not spend time with him; can’t be forced. So far, they have always gone to his house on his designated weekend. Can you force them to come? What does the law really say about this?

The reality is, forcing a teenager to do anything is very difficult if not impossible. I would file a motion for custody. The kids are old enough to make their case to a judge. Until that time you should encourage them to go as it is still required by your custody agreement.

Have you came up with a solution on this? I am in the same boat, also with a 14 and a 17 year old. My 14yrs old goes to her dad once in a while but my 17yrs old son never goes. He doesn’t want to spend any time with his father. As of right now I am thinking about relocating and moving on with my life, but he is making it difficult, not wanting to sign parental agreement and ignoring me.

That’s a difficult situation. You could take him to court and seek a modification.

What does the Dad say about this? If the dad wants reduced visitation you can likely grant it very easily. And you wouldn’t need to involve the attorneys. (Sorry Ryan, I’m sure you have plenty of other work.) It isn’t like there is a federal government and a huge state bureaucracy enforcing visitation.