Child custody and parenting time disputes can arise between divorced or separated parents. Generally the parents are disputing the term of an agreement already in place and the children are stuck in the middle. But, sometimes the children may take matters into their own hands and despite a court order and visitation schedule, may refuse to spend time with a parent.

Recently, a Michigan court was faced with this very situation wherein three siblings aged 9, 10 and 14 refused to spend time and meet with their father. The children alleged that the father was abusive, and described being with their father as unbearable.

In this particular case, the three children refused to abide by the shared-custody arrangement their parents had in place. The agreement was signed nearly nine years ago. Under the terms of the agreement, the children were to spend half their time with their mother and the other half with their father. However, the children made claims of abuse against their father. The judge in this case disagreed and placed them in juvenile detention for their refusal to spend time with their father.

According to reports, the judge suggested that the mother had brainwashed the children to dislike their father. Furthermore, the father accused the mother of alienating his children from him. In essence parental alienation refers to claims by one parent that the other parent is brainwashing their child and pitting them against one parent.

Though parents involved in child custody and parenting time disputes have the option to file a petition for modification of the custody arrangement, some parents may feel that they cannot afford the expense of a lengthy protracted legal battle. However, it is important for parents in a parenting-time and child custody dispute to keep in mind that such matters can be resolved in an affordable manner and potentially through alternate dispute resolution techniques. A family law attorney may be able to provide more information regarding one’s options. It is in the best interests of all parties involved in a family law related dispute to try to resolve it as soon as possible.

Source: Washington Post, “We were sent to juvenile detention for refusing to live with our father,” Hope Loudon, Aug. 3, 2015