Any good divorce attorney will tell you, "For heavens sake, whatever you do don't tell the judge your kids don't want to visit their father/mother!" I have said these words to clients countless times, and I always get the same response, "but its true, they don't want to go!!" In my career I have brought hundreds of enforcement actions seeking to put one parent in jail for failing to allow the other parent to pick up the children during their visitation. In almost every instance I here the same response, regarding how the children don't want to go visit the other parent. There are numerous reasons why a child might not want to go to the other parent's house for visitation, and nearly all of them have to do with the way the primary parent treats the child. Maybe the primary parent drills them with questions when they get back, or maybe the primary parent talks bad about the visiting parent all the time, or it could be as simply as the primary parent's bad attitude as it gets closer to visitation time. The bottom line is its usually not the child that doesn't want to go, its usually the primary parent that doesn't want the child to go.
Nothing upsets a judge more than a parent who says their child doesn't want to go, and if they don't want to go, I can't make them. Really!! So if your 10 year old says, I don't want to go to school anymore, or says I don't want to clean up my room, are you going to say, oh well, if he doesn't want to, I can't make him. I don't think so. Again the bottom line is, its not the child that doesn't want to go, its the primary parent.
So what do judges expect of the parent. Most judges expect the parent to put on a smile and say to the child in a happy voice, "Lucky you, its time to go to your dad's (or mother's) house, your going to have a great time!" To some this may sound rediculous, but judge's expect parent's to be the grown up and act like the grown up. And if they can't, well that parent may just spend some time in the custody of the county jail, or worse the judge may decide that parent isn't the right person to be the primary parent.
Of course all this begs the question, so when does a child get to decide not to go to the other parent's for visitation. The short answer is when the child is no longer considered a child, which is when the child turns 18. However, the Court also understands that as a child gets older (16 or 17) the child will have other obligations, such as jobs, extracuricular activities, social events etc. At this point its best if both parents can communicate and learn to work around these events so that both parents can participate and still have time to see the child. If they can't then the Court will make provisions that neither parent will like. I once had a case where the child was 16 years of age and very active. She had a part time job, was active in dance and competition cheerleding. My client had issues because everytime he tried to see his daughter the mother had an excuse of why the child couldn't come. At the hearing the judge ordered that visitation would be as agreed between the father and the daughter. In other words mother was cut out of the decision making all together. This did not sit well with the mother, and the father was not happy because it did not have any specific times for visitation.
In the end, when its time for the child to go to the other parent, remember, the child's attitude will usually reflect that of the primary parent. So if the primary parent has a good attitude about the child going to the other parent's house, the child will too. But its not all about the primary parent, the parent picking up the child needs to have a good attitude as well. If the parent doing the visitation arrives with a bad attitude (usually because of having to see or deal with the other parent) the child will sense this and think its because that parent doesn't want to see the child. So if you are the parent excercising visitation, forget about the other parent, put on a happy face and show excitement about getting to see your child. Life will be so much better and save you from having to spend money on attorneys and legal fees.