When Your Ex doesn't Cooperate With Visitation: 6 Tips for Divorced Parents
Divorces can be a challenging situation no matter how well you get along with your ex-spouse. One thing that both parents have in common is to do what they can to reduce the negative impact of divorce on their teenagers.
As a teen counselor and family therapist, I understand that this is not always possible. And sometimes despite the best efforts of the parents.
When parents go through a divorce, it can have a negative impact on teenagers. It is a loss of one kind of relationship with their parents as a new relationship develops.
One of the biggest and trickiest challenges divorced parents face is deciding how they share custody of their teenagers. Parents balance what is in the best interest of their teenagers, what is in their best interest as their parent, while trying to be mindful of the other parent.
There are times where one parent may be more willing to cooperate more than the other, leading to tension and conflict. For example, your ex may not want to see the children after a divorce. Or your ex may not follow the custody agreement.
How Can Parents Best Support the Needs of Their Teenagers in a Divorce?
If you have an ex that is not giving the time and attention your teenagers need OR may not be following through with the custody agreement that has been created, what is a parent to do?
You may feel like you're between a rock and a hard place. You see how one parent's actions are having an effect on your teenagers and you may feel powerless to affect quick change?
As a teen counselor and family therapist, below are suggestions that I have provided to parents in similar situations.
1. Talk to Your Ex About the Importance of Spending Time With the Kids
An effective way to navigate this difficult situation is by talking openly and honestly with your ex. If they are unwilling or unable, you may need help from a mediator or counselor who can provide objective input into the conversation so that both parties feel heard and understood.
2. Seek Professional Help
It's essential to have a support system that can help you deal with the range of emotions, including those felt during a divorce. If it becomes too much for one person in this situation, seek professional guidance.
What you are experiencing is not something that is uncommon. A teen therapist or family counselor has helped others through very similar situations.
They can provide strategies to navigate these challenging times. They can also help you and your teenager find healing from what has happened by talking about things openly without fear or stigma attached.
3. Consider Court Action
If the court has ordered frequent and regular visitation, but your ex is not following these wishes, it can be a problem. You could ask for an enforcement order from them so that they will hold to their end date or schedule by law if possible.
However, this may result in custody disputes between both parties, which aren't something any parent wants - especially since there are kids involved.
4. Document, Document, Document
If you are going through a custody battle or divorce, it is important to document everything. Keep a record of all the dates and times you see your teenagers and what was said during each visit. This will show the judge that you have made every effort to be involved in your teenager's lives.
Custody and visitation can be contentious issues during a divorce, so having a clear record of your interactions with your teenagers will be helpful in court. Custody battles can be emotionally charged, but it is important to remember that the goal is to do what is best for your kids. Be honest and factual in your documentation.
5. Keep Communication Open With Your Ex
Although communication with an ex can be difficult, it is important to keep the lines of communication open, especially if you have children together. After a divorce, it can be tempting to cut off all communication to distance yourself from the pain of the breakup.
However, this can make it more challenging to resolve parenting issues and more difficult for your teenagers. They may feel caught in the middle and may not understand why you are no longer speaking to their other parent.
Instead, try to set aside your personal feelings and maintain a civil relationship with your ex. This will make it easier to communicate about important matters, and it will also develop a positive example for your kids.
6. Prioritize the Emotional Needs of the Kids
Teenagers of divorced parents often feel caught in the middle. They love both of their parents and want them to be happy, but they also think they must choose sides.
This can put a lot of pressure on teenagers and make them feel like they're not allowed to express their feelings. It's important to remember that communication with your ex is not just about logistics; it's also about emotional support for the kids.
If you find that it's challenging to be civil with each other, your teenagers will pick up on that, and it will likely have a negative effect on them. Make an effort to talk to your ex about your teenager's emotional needs and be sensitive to what they're going through.
It's not easy for teenagers to deal with their parent's divorce, but with the right support, they can get through it.
Katy Teen & Family Counseling: 70+ Years of Combined Experience in Teen Therapy in Katy, Tx
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we help teens and families who have experienced a divorce. Divorces can be tricky to navigate and emotionally taxing on all involved.
There is help. Our teen counselors and family therapists have helped other teens and families who have experienced a divorce. Having an outside, objective, trained professional help provide support for you or your teen can make all the difference.
Katy Teen & Family Counseling is easy to get to and is conveniently located just off of 99 and I-10. If you are ready to start teen counseling or family therapy, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Speak with our therapists who specialize in teen counseling & family therapy
Lean on the support that a therapist can provide. You are not alone!
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we use therapy and counseling approaches that are supported by research. These approaches have been shown to work in the shortest amount of time.
We provide teen therapy, counseling for young adults, family therapy, and marriage counseling or couples therapy.
We also offer the following therapy and counseling services:
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Group Therapy for Teens
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Support Group for Parents
Parents of teenagers and young adults face unique challenges. The "Parents Supporting Parent's" group at Katy Teen & Family Counseling provides a place where parents can meet with other parents of teenagers and young adults who may be struggling.
Parents will walk away from this group with a greater feeling of support, actionable skills, and even friendships.
About the Author
Jheri Walter, LCSW-S is a seasoned therapist specializing in teen therapy, young adult counseling, and family therapy.
Jheri has been providing therapy to teens, young adults, and families since 2009. She enjoys using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) & Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) due to its effectiveness with teens and young adults.
Jheri helps teens, young adults, and families in the Katy, Tx and Houston area who struggle with: ADHD/ADD, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, trauma, PTSD, and other challenges.
Jheri also has a unique understanding of some of the challenges teens and young adults face who are bi-racial. Identity, acceptance, and embracing a mixed heritage are some of the challenges she helps teens and young adults manage.
Also being raised in a blended family, Jheri can help parents and teens of blended families make this journey a little less complex.