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  1. #1
    WorriedNJmom is offline Junior Member
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    Son does not want to see father anymore-what do I do?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? New Jersey

    My son is 16 and has court ordered visitation with his father on alternating weekends and holidays. The relationship has always been rocky. After visiting w/his father for a 2 week long vacation, he came home and broke down in tears, absolutely shaken up and does not want to see him anymore. He can not take the emotional stress anymore. His father and stepmother fight CONSTANTLY. His father is very short tempered and ALWAYS snaps at him and yells at him. My son says he feels very uncomfortable going there, he's afraid that he will "snap" one day on his father, he can not take the stress anymore and no longer wants to see him. My son has a seizure disorder, whereas stress is a BIG factor in causing seizures and is a major concern of mine. My son has undergone numerous years of counseling several years ago in helping him to deal with issues that have developed from seeing his father. He hated it, but I did what I felt was neccessary to help him. It's been roughly around 5 years since he's been in counseling and has adjusted well up until now. He is ACTUALLY requesting to see a counsler to deal with the anxiety of having to deal with his father. He feels he needs someone to talk to, which I am seeking for him.

    WHAT DO I DO IN REGARDS TO VISITATION? I am required to bring him to his father, but what do I do when he refuses to go? He does not want to see him. He is scared for his own mental health.

    Please, anyone with any advice, I would greatly appreciate it. I do not know which way to go with this. Do I have my son speak with his father about it, which I'm sure will have my son being yelled at and exposed to more emotional abuse? Do I petition the court to have visitation terminated, which I'm sure they'll just deny? Do I have my son petition the court on his own, which I don't feel very comfortable in doing? WHAT DO I DO?
    Thank you very much for your time.
  2. #2
    proud_parent is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by WorriedNJmom View Post
    He is ACTUALLY requesting to see a counsler to deal with the anxiety of having to deal with his father. He feels he needs someone to talk to, which I am seeking for him.
    Follow through with counseling ASAP -- especially as your son is himself requesting it!

    Quote Originally Posted by WorriedNJmom View Post
    WHAT DO I DO IN REGARDS TO VISITATION? I am required to bring him to his father, but what do I do when he refuses to go? He does not want to see him. He is scared for his own mental health.
    Follow the court order, or risk being found in contempt.

    Quote Originally Posted by WorriedNJmom View Post
    Do I have my son speak with his father about it, which I'm sure will have my son being yelled at and exposed to more emotional abuse?
    Why don't YOU speak with Dad about it? You two are the parents; you should be addressing the issue together, without placing your son in the middle.

    Quote Originally Posted by WorriedNJmom View Post
    Do I petition the court to have visitation terminated, which I'm sure they'll just deny?
    Filing a petition to modify will get you nowhere, unless you can prove the requisite change of circumstance. Based on what you've posted, you do not have that. The court would not be likely to suspend or to restrict Dad's visitation under the circumstances unless there is credible evidence of abuse or neglect.

    Quote Originally Posted by WorriedNJmom View Post
    Do I have my son petition the court on his own, which I don't feel very comfortable in doing?
    WHAT??? Have a minor petition the Court?

    Quote Originally Posted by WorriedNJmom View Post
    WHAT DO I DO?
    Start by attempting a conversation with Dad. Encourage him to get on board with son's counseling. It is in your son's best interest for his parents to cooperate and to approach this issue together.
  3. #3
    WorriedNJmom is offline Junior Member
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    I'm definitely setting up an appointment for my son for counseling.

    I plan on following court order, as I always have, but am curious to know the proper avenue to go to help him with the visitation issue.

    Unfortunately, I can not speak with his father regarding this issue since I have a RESTRAINING ORDER against him. He was physically and emotionally abusive to me and he and I do not have contact. If it were an ideal world, I wish I could speak with him and settle and discuss these issues and concerns like mature adults. I do not like my son having to deal with any of this. My son came to me, telling me he doesn't want to see him anymore. I'm just trying to figure a proper and legal way of dealing with it.

    As far as having my son petition the court, I am only requesting suggestions on dealing with this. This was a suggestion made by a few people to me. As I have stated, I do not feel comfortable by doing that, but am looking for proper suggestions and/or alternatives.

    Dad is not one to get on board with anything. As far as counseling, we've tried family counseling in the past and it always became about him and his problems and his prior Alcohol addiction. Focus always was drawn to him and came off of my son and the actual problem at hand.

    He unfortunately, is not a reasonable person. Everything is about him, he always has to be in control of everyone and everything. If you do not bow down to him, look out. All I ever wanted was for him to be a good father to my son and give him a normal life when he's with him. I left him becuase of the way he is and always prayed my son would never see the side of him that I have had to face. Now my son see's it and does not want to be near it. My son should not have to visit him on weekends and hear constant fighting and yelling between his father and stepmother. He should be in a happy peaceful environment where there is love and respect. What do I do? Do I force him to get in the car and go, when he doesn't want to and look the other way after I drop him off and pretend that he'll be safe? This is a very hard situation. I want to follow everything through legally, but also getting justice for my son and allow him the peace of mind that he doesn't have to be forced into a situation that is harmful to him.
  4. #4
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    I am not entirely certain that a motion to modify won't get her anywhere. The child is sixteen, and if she gets the child into a counselor right away, and keeps it up weekly, by the time a court date could be set the counselor could be ready to testify to the problems.

    While a judge is unlikely to say that the child can refuse to visit with dad at all, its possible that the judge will give the child some say as to the quantity and length of visitation, particularly if the counselor urges a change from what is currently set. Its also possible that the judge could order that a few visits be forgone, and replaced with a few counseling sessions between dad and the teen.

    When a 16 year old who hated counseling before, is ASKING for counseling now, I think that's a pretty good indicator that the problem is a real one, and not just a teenage rebellion type of thing, and deserves a little bit better than our standard answers.

    If mom and dad are able to communicate at all, mom should have a discussion with dad about the problem. I am sure that dad loves his son, despite the issues, so mom is going to have to approach it carefully, because its likely to hurt dad's feelings.

    Even if dad blows up, and says he doesn't want the child there anymore if that is how the child feels (which does sometimes happen), mom still needs to get the child in counseling, because dad is likely to think better of his decision after a while.
  5. #5
    Isis1 is offline Senior Member
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    you know, this is just a thought. OP made mention that counseling always seems to turn into an "all about dad" session. maybe this is what dad needs. maybe dad is in dire need of some counseling and this is the best way to get him counseling without "making" him go. and then possibly son can have an extra session with the therapist by himself so he can talk out his own issues there and the therapist would better be able to teach son how to handle dad seeing dad's behavior firsthand.
  6. #6
    WorriedNJmom is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you all for the advice. My son has actually mentioned that he wants to tell his father to get marriage counseling as well as anger management, but of course, is scared to talk to him about it. I do agree with my son with his thoughts on this. This also is definitely not a teenage rebellion issue. My son is a great kid, we have a great relationship, he knows right from wrong and isn't doing this because he doesn't want to be bothered or would rather be with friends. He sincerely is hurting over this, is scared of his father and does not want to see him any further unless he changes.

    We've tried the family counseling which was court ordered for the three of us many years ago and that got us nowhere. It really just created alot more tension between us parents and alot of fingerpointing, which was completely uneccessary and again, always became about him.

    I'm thinking maybe the best way to deal with all of this is, 1) counseling for my son and guess 2) taking our shot at going to court (which I prefer to avoid, unless absolutely necessary). How would I file? How do I go about either the judge or someone at the court speaking with my son to see how he feels and to make sure it is not me making false accusations, which I'm sure the courts and his father would assume I'm doing. In all my years of having to deal with the courts, they have always favored his father rather than what was really in the best interest of my son. It always has gone the worst possible way, for some reason. We've never used attorneys'.
    What is the best and most realistic way to file and word the situation to the court?

    Thank you.
  7. #7
    proud_parent is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by WorriedNJmom View Post
    I'm thinking maybe the best way to deal with all of this is, 1) counseling for my son and guess 2) taking our shot at going to court (which I prefer to avoid, unless absolutely necessary).
    Personally, I think that petitioning the court at this time to modify visitation would be premature.

    As LdiJ suggested, it could be that if you file now and son attends regular counseling up to the hearing, his counselor could be willing to testify at the hearing. However, you shouldn't count on that happening.

    By your own report, your son has not seen a counselor in five years. Why not give the counselor and your son ample time to work together to help him to improve the situation -- or at least to cope with it more effectively -- before you decide whether to proceed via the courts. The primary goal of therapy should be to assist son and father to improve their relationship -- NOT to get an "expert" in your corner to testify why Dad's time with son should be reduced (even if only temporarily).

    Also, bear in mind that you don't know whether the therapist you select will be willing to testify. Some child and family therapists are reticent to become involved in custody battles. Even if you select a therapist who is generally comfortable with testifying in family court, you can't know at this point HOW s/he will testify when the time comes. You have apparently already concluded that son shouldn't have to go to Dad under the circumstances (in your own words, "My son should not have to visit him on weekends..."). It's entirely possible that the therapist would not conclude that time away from Dad is the most appropriate therapeutic response. And finally, EVEN IF the therapist does conclude as much and is willing to recommend this to the Court, a judge may or may not agree to modify the order.

    As you are prevented from contacting Dad due to the restraining order, ask the therapist whether s/he would be willing to broach these issues with Dad initially. It doesn't sound as if son has the interpersonal tools or the emotional wherewithal to do so yet.

    I realize that it is your previous experience with family therapy that leads you to conclude that Dad won't cooperate with the counselor. However, you can't know going in that this time will be the same. Dad may, for example, be more willing to participate if he is permitted to meet privately with son's therapist, or to attend joint counseling with son, without you present. This may be even more likely if the therapist approaches Dad from the angle of attempting to find ways to preserve his time with your son and to make it more enjoyable for them both.
  8. #8
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by WorriedNJmom View Post
    How do I go about either the judge or someone at the court speaking with my son to see how he feels and to make sure it is not me making false accusations, which I'm sure the courts and his father would assume I'm doing. In all my years of having to deal with the courts, they have always favored his father rather than what was really in the best interest of my son. It always has gone the worst possible way, for some reason. We've never used attorneys'.
    What is the best and most realistic way to file and word the situation to the court?

    Thank you.
    Asking the judge to appoint a GAL (Guardian ad litem) is one way to get your son heard. There is cost involved with that, but its definitely one real way to get the best interest of your son addressed.

    However, based on the fact that your son is 16, a possibly more effective/quicker route is to ask that the judge intereview your child in chambers. That, combined with a counselor's testimony may get good results...or even by itself might get good results.

    Then, there is the last, and often the most foolish of options, is to simply refuse to force your child to go, and leave the whole thing between he and dad. Its often the most foolish of options, because it can get you seriously fined and even cause you to lose custody (although unlikely once a child is 16), but it can also sometimes be a wakeup call for the other parent.

    Consult a local attorney and then decide what you are going to do. Don't rely on the advice here.

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