No, you cannot "make" someone visit or spend parenting time with their children, but you can incentivize, motivate and encourage. One motivation technique or incentive Massachusetts divorce lawyers often employ is to craft the agreement, or court order such that if a visiting parent misses their scheduled visit, they pay the costs for the custodial parent to have a babysitter for that time period or to pay lost wages. Of course that is a negative incentive, sometimes positive ones like perhaps offering to be flexible with the times or to do the work for them (like to plan a birthday or holiday party and let the other parent come enjoy it without having to prepare, contribute or clean up. No, it is not fair. But it may give the children a chance to see the other parent.
It is a difficult issue, because often the custodial parent is simply trying to have the other parent spend parenting time, because it is good for the kids. Kids are smart and they figure it out, so it is advisable to simply reassure the children that the other parent loves them and has to figure out his or her own way to express that love, but that eventually he or she will.
Sooner or later the children will be adults and will develop their own connection with or isolation from the other parent. How you handle it until then is what the kids will know and hopefully love about you. If that is your burden, do your best to put a positive spin on it. You get to see your kids much more than most separated parents, and you get to have the most input into who they become. It is actually an opportunity many separated parents wish they had. Yes it is hard work, but thank goodness your kids have you, one good parent, and that is more than many less fortunate children in this world have.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divoce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.