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Sugg53 04-05-2021 02:32 AM

Teenager disagrees with arrangements in separation agreement
When parental time is allocated via a court order, and a child (typically a teenager) decides not to follow the parental time schedule (ie" votes with their feet", "parental shopping", etc), one of the parents is technically in a breach of the order, and could be found in contempt. I know, courts are reluctant to enforce a parental time order on teenagers, especially as they get older. But still, there is an order, and a possibility of contempt. Right?

What about a separation agreement? I read on a few websites that a separation agreement is a contract, and its breach needs to be addressed in a court as such. But if an input of a child was not sought in negotiating an agreement, can a court enforce a SA if a teenager is not happy with allocation of parental time? Even if child's input was sought, but now the child wants to change the parental time allocation, is there a legal way for a child to address this issue? The agreement is between parents (and the child is not a party to the contract- right?) yet the SA affects child interests. Would a parent be legally in breach of a separation agreement if a child is not following it? How would the other parent go about enforcing the SA - seeking a court order (but we know courts are reluctant to impose a decision on a teenager)? Damages?? But I think that a separation agreement is not your typical commercial contract and a family court would use a different approach than a civil one...

Brampton33 04-05-2021 09:17 AM

I personally won't let kids vote with their feet until they are 16. At that age, they have part-time jobs and are heavily into friends and sports/activities that really a house is just a place where they sleep. Otherwise, their lives revolve around their friends and fitting in.

Now the road to age 16 is quite challenging, as the kids childhood is ripe with grooming and setting up better households. Such competition between parents! There really should be more repercussions on child grooming as my ex has started this since Day 1. It is a form of psychological brainwashing....

With regards to separation agreement, you can always get the enforceable stuff of a separation agreement turned into a court order. It really is not that difficult.

With regards to dealing with kid and other parent. The other parent should be promoting the time with the other parent. THAT is the problem with divorced parents. Tween child tells Parent A that they don't feel like going to Parent B's home, and Parent A tries to be cool and agrees with them. Instead, Parent A should be pepping kid up to go to Parent B's, rather than creating an environment where its cool to reject the other parent.

rockscan 04-05-2021 10:26 AM

Its all in how you work together and parent together. If you both have reasonable rules and expectations and also both enforce time with the other parent then there should be no problem. If one parent becomes a Disney Parent then youre fucked.

Bottom line is, you have a unified front on everything. Focus entirely on what is best for the kids. If there is an issue with a kid not wanting to see the other parent, work on what is the problem.

For instance, a friend of mine learned her kids didnt want to go dads house as he lived on the other side of the city and his house was not family focused like moms. She sat down with her ex and they worked together on a solution. He moved closer and started making more effort on family time like eating together, doing activities together, spending time together. The kids happily went to dads house.

The separation agreement is to ensure you get specific time with the kids. Dont approach it as a contract the kids didnt sign. Approach the SITUATION as a similar arrangement together. They have a mom and a dad who want to spend time with them. There is no negotiation on seeing mom or dad. They have freedom to go between houses and spend time with both parents. On the other hand, you and your ex cant say I want the kids with me. You two will have to work together to ensure the kids have time with both parents. Remember that you may hate your ex but they are still your kids parent and the kids need them in their life.

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Stillbreathing 04-05-2021 11:11 AM

The above posters are providing excellent advice if your ex is a relatively normal, run of the mill non-abusive ex who does not have any mental health or alcohol/substance abuse issues and if you have joint custody or shared parenting. Judges are extremely cautious in ordering teenagers ( including teens younger than 16) to visit a parent against their will and are even more cautious in ordering police enforcement with these older children. This is whether the child does not wish to see the parent for reasons of justified estrangement or reasons of parental alienation. If a teen themselves, for whatever reason is putting up a strong refusal to visit the other parent, a judge will proceed with extreme caution. This is because there is enough times in the past where a judge has court ordered a teen to see their other parent against their objections and as a direct result of that order the teen has committed suicide.

Sugg53 04-05-2021 12:18 PM

The replies above all make good points. But despite parents' best efforts, I think a child can still just move out, especially if you are dealing with a 14-15-16 year-old. Different parents have different parenting styles, which is just normal. Maybe boys like dad's lifestyle more (insert "boy stuff" here)... Maybe girls like mom's lifestyle better (insert "girl stuff" here). Maybe boys like mom's house better. Maybe dad's house is closer to where all the friends are. Maybe. Maybe.

What I am getting at, is that kids are not property - they may not stay where you put them. You plan your post-divorce life with a 50/50 parental time in mind (and even have a SA to that), buy a house so that each kid may have their own bedroom. Then one kid moves out to your ex. Then the sibling follows. Then another. Now you have an empty house, and need a second job to afford the mortgage and child support payments.

But is there a recourse for a parent on whom the kids "voted with their feet"? I do not see it.

Sugg53 04-05-2021 12:33 PM

Which brings me to another point - what is the advice/consesus on buying vs renting post-divorce? Especially if you have teenagers who may have (or will have) a mind of their own as to where they want to live? I feel like instead of trying to stretch a dollar to afford a mortgage, it might be better to use equity to rent until children grow up and move out. Maybe it will give kids an incentive to move out as well.

rockscan 04-05-2021 12:53 PM

You are giving your kids way too much power. If they dont want to go to school do you let them stay home?

It doesnt matter what your agreement says, YOU and THEIR OTHER PARENT make the decisions for whats best for them. If the kids dont like it at moms house are you just going to say ok dont go or will you get to the root of the problem and figure out a solution that works for everyone?

Kids vote with their feet when they arent happy with a situation. Parents look at situations and work to resolve them. You are worrying about something that hasnt happened yet. Last week you were concerned about how to stop a divorce, this week you are worried about kids not wanting to live with one of you. You need to walk before you run.

You and your ex need to sit down and work on what is best for the kids in this situation. Is it reasonable for you or your ex to stay in the neighbourhood? Can you both have a home that supports kids going to both in a shared parenting situation? Are you both going to work together on rules and punishments if the kids get into trouble or act out? Will you have the kids attend counseling to work through any fears/issues?

There is no court ordered situation for shared parenting of teens. You and your spouse work together. If one kid doesnt want to be at one house you sit down and work it out with them to see why. Is it a rules thing? Is it an environment thing? Is it simply a teenage acting out thing?

The bottom line is: parents who work together dont have these issues. Parents who use the kids as a weapon do. Which parent do you want to be?

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Sugg53 04-05-2021 02:15 PM

I know, rockscan, I know, I am a mess. I do not want a divorce for selfish reasons. I am afraid that kids will want to live with my spouse - they already prefer spending time with them. I am afraid for my financial future.

I think me and my spouse are on the same page: we want kids to have good parenting and a strong tie to both of us and spend time with both of us. I am just concerned that kids will make up their own mind, despite our best efforts. I just know I will not feel right begging/threatening kids to live with me, even if both I and my spouse are on the same page, but kids are not. I think that's just the reality of the divorce. That's also why I was wondering what is the better financial decision regarding rent vs. buy, at least until kids are grown up.

rockscan 04-05-2021 03:11 PM

Whatever works in the situation you are in. If the kids want to stay in the neighbourhood and you can only afford to rent, do that. Renting is tax deductible and the market is crazy right now. Not to mention that they will be going off to school in a few years anyway.

As long as you and your ex are on the same page on raising them, there shouldnt be a problem. Your ex can say its your dads time and you are going. Most of the cases where a kid is allowed to choose involves a parent using the kid. You can hate your ex but still work in the kids best interest.

Its when divorces get acrimonious that there are problems. Be a good ex spouse and a good parent and you will be fine!

Funny story, a family member won a mobility order to keep his kids here. His ex withheld them by bad mouthing him and making them hate him. It took two weeks before the kids were back at his house because a) mom never went shopping and b) dad did their laundry. After that the kids realized they could go freely between houses and wouldnt listen to moms badmouthing.

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Sugg53 04-05-2021 04:05 PM


Originally Posted by rockscan (Post 245891)

There is no court ordered situation for shared parenting of teens.

Do you mean as in "not yet in your case" or "in general"? What if parents disagree? A courts needs to decide something, wouldnt the court award of a joint decision making be just that? Or do the courts always go by a status-quo and/or teen preferences?

Also you mentioned "renting is tax deductible"... are you sure? In what province? The closest thing I found in Ontario is that depending on age/income you might qualify for Ontario Trillium Benefit (I would not anyway)

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