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How to Handle a Teenager Who Refuses to Return From Parenting Time With Ex

A myriad of issues can arrive when it comes to post-divorce parenting time. One of the most commonly occurring disputes arising from custody following the conclusion of a New Jersey marriage dissolution case involves one parent or another who fails to comply with the terms and conditions established in a custody order. Another type of situation that can arise in a post-divorce setting is what to do when a teenager refuses to return to a schedule stay with the noncustodial parent.

There are a number of steps a custodial parent can employ when handling a teenager who refuses to return from parenting time. These include:

  • Use a graduated system to rectify the situation
  • Open up a reasonable line of communication with the noncustodial parent
  • Ascertain why the teen does not want to come home
  • Consider the age of the teen and the possibility for a change
  • Involve law enforcement
  • Seek a court order
  • Seek legal assistance
Use a Graduated System to Rectify the Situation

When it comes to dealing with a situation in which a teen refuses to return to a primary residence following time spent with the noncustodial parent, a graduated system should be utilized to try and resolve the matter. In other words, do not immediately take a step like calling in law enforcement or heading straightaway to the courthouse. There are some more moderate measures that should be attempted initially and that do many times work to resolve a situation.

Open Up a Reasonable Line of Communication with the Noncustodial Parent

A tactic that is at the heart of working to get an obstinate teenager back to your home after a parenting time session is to strive to open up a reasonable line of communication with the other parent. If you both have has some success at coparenting, you may already be fairly decent at communicating with one another.

If communication has been a problem, you certainly are not alone. Many divorced parents struggling with communicating with one another. With that fairly recognized, you nonetheless should make a serious attempt at opening up a reasonable line of communication if one is no already there.

Ascertain Why the Teen Does Not Want to Come Home

You should dive into why your teenager doesn’t want to return to your home after spending scheduled time with the noncustodial parent. Bear in mind that your teen might have a legitimate issue. For example, perhaps you’ve remarried and there is a valid issue that exists in regard to your teen, your current spouse, or stepsiblings. You are wise and advised to do at least some investigation to ascertain your teenager’s motivations.

Consider the Age of the Teen and the Possibility for a Change

You will also want to consider the age of your teen and at least contemplate whether there might be some value in adjusting an existing custody arrangement. For example, if you have an older teen, he or she might be involved in different activities and will different activities that are closer and more accessible to your ex’s residence.

Involve Law Enforcement

After contemplating the situation and determining that there exists no valid reason for the teen to defy an existing order of the court regarding custody and parenting time, you may want to consider contacting the police or sheriff to escort your teenaged child back home. You are going to need a certified copy of the existing custody order to support your claim that you are the custodial parent and your teenager should be at your residence.

Seek Judicial Assistance

If this type of situation keeps occurring, or if your former spouse appears to be involved in the matter, consider filing a motion to enforce an existing custody order. While a teenager is not a party to your divorce case, he or she is subject to the court’s jurisdiction when it comes to matters involving and associated with child custody.

Seek Legal Assistance


Do not rule out the necessity of retaining a skilled New Jersey custody and parenting time lawyer to assist you in your situation. The first step in engaging legal assistance is to contact the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen by calling (201) 845-7400. There is no obligation for an initial consultation with an family law attorney from our firm.

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