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Force My Children to attend Parenting Time?

Force My Children to attend Parenting Time?

Force My Children to attend Parenting Time

by Jeff J. Horn Ocean County Family Law Attorney

Families with children establish parenting time. In family law parenting time is a given. Hold on. Will a court force my children to go for parenting time?


Will I have to force my children to go with my ex?


Force my children to go – best interests of the children.


The best interests of the children are always paramount. The question “will a court force my children to go with the other parent” arises frequently. It is the wrong question.


The right question is will it be good for the children to “force my children to go”?


The term force sounds kind of aggressive. Court orders have consequences.  Defying court orders sets your case on the wrong track. Naturally, more defiance equals more enforcement.  Family law judges have many tools at their disposal. 


However, good parenting means neither parent should force the children to attend Parenting Time.


What can a court do to force my children to go?


The court has many coercive powers.


  1. Order makeup parenting time. This can be worse than regular parenting time. The family law judge can add time on to existing schedules or change the schedule entirely.


  1. The family law judge can order financial sanctions against a non-compliant parent. Financial sanctions can include fines payable to the court. Equally painful, the family court judge can make you  pay the other parents legal fees.


  1. DCPP can become involved with your family.  Police involvement almost always means child protective services will be involved. They will look at all caretakers to detect neglect or abuse. If you suspect abuse, place a phone call. Warning, you must keep detailed notes of your call. The resources to place an initial call to the hotline or listed below.


  1. The police can be involved with your family. You may call the police. The other parent may call the police. Third parties can also call the police.


  1. A court can even switch child custody based upon refusal to comply with a custody and parenting time order. This will not necessarily happen after one incident. be advised however,  family law judges have this power.


My children refuse to go. Will the court force my children to go?


It depends. The age and maturity of children. Younger children should not be empowered to make parenting plans. Parents are in charge of children. Family Court deals with the parents.


Older teenagers will not be forced to have parenting time. They will be encouraged. Therapy may be ordered. Perhaps, parents can agree before things get out of hand.


I cannot force my children to go with my Ex, if they threaten to run away.


Fortunately, most threats are words only. By and large, children do not run away because of parenting time. A credible runaway threat should be addressed.


  1. Communicate with the other parent.


  1. Take the child to the pediatrician.


  1. Take the child to therapy.


  1. Enroll the entire family including your Ex in parenting counseling.


Oftentimes, threats or attention seeking. Give attention in a professional setting. Avoid making it a competition between the two parents.


Family law judges prefer to order counseling and therapy. Family law judges do not want to force children to attend parenting time.


What if my children are being abused? Do I still have to force my children to attend parenting time?


Differentiates hard times with the abuse and neglect. Frequently, parenting time is a hardship when parents separate. Hence, children must be permitted to adjust. Although circumstances may feel like abuse, it is likely not.

Use good judgment to differentiate between parenting anguish and factual child abuse.


Do not allow bitterness over the break-up to cloud your thinking. Parenting is hard work. Family law judges care first about the children having a relationship with both parents.

Family law and parenting time – force the children to attend …


Contrary to common beliefs, Family Court is a well of hope. The purpose of family law is to treat everyone fairly when separating. My first mentor was Judge Thomas O’Brien. He told litigants to”

“Write a note and put it on your refrigerator …

Children First

Me 2nd


If you and the other parent Keep this rule in mind, you will never feel like you have to “force my children to attend parenting time.” If the other parent applies the same rule your children will be well served. If not, the entire family will spend a lot of time in Family Court.


No family law judge will force your children into a minimum abusive environment. If you suspect abuse, contact DCPP. 


Reporting Child Abuse in Ocean County


How and When to Report Child Abuse/Neglect

In New Jersey, any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or acts of abuse should immediately report this information to the State Central Registry (SCR). If the child is in immediate danger, call 911 as well as 1-877 NJ ABUSE (1-877-652-2873). A concerned caller does not need proof to report an allegation of child abuse and can make the report anonymously.

What information will I be asked to provide to the hotline screener?

SCR screeners are trained caseworkers who know how to respond to reports of child abuse/neglect. Whenever possible, a caller should provide all of the following information:

  • Who: The child and parent/caregiver’s name, age and address and the name of the alleged perpetrator and that person’s relationship to the child.
  • What: Type and frequency of alleged abuse/neglect, current or previous injuries to the child and what caused you to become concerned.
  • When: When the alleged abuse/neglect occurred and when you learned of it.
  • Where: Where the incident occurred, where the child is now and whether the alleged perpetrator has access to the child.
  • How: How urgent the need is for intervention and whether there is a likelihood of imminent danger for the child.


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