Can My Child Refuse Visitation?

It’s not uncommon for ex-spouses to withhold child visitation, but what happens when the tables turn and your child refuses to visit their other parent? It can be a difficult situation when a child refuses to see you co-parent. However, it’s important to take steps to help your family navigate this issue. Keep reading to learn more about how to handle this situation.

Why Is My Child Refusing to See Their Other Parent?

There are several possible reasons why a child may be hesitant to spend time with one of their parents.

Reasons a child may refuse visitation include:

  • Your child is unhappy with the rules at your co-parent’s home.
  • Your child may be influenced by peers to distance themselves from their other parent.
  • Your co-parent may live far from where your child’s friends, school, activities, etc.
  • Your child may disagree with your co-parent on many matters.
  • Your child may not get along with your co-parent’s new partner or other members of their household.

It is important to acknowledge that there could be various factors causing your child's reluctance to visit with your co-parent. While we have listed some possible explanations, there may be other reasons that are unique to your child's situation and should not be ignored. However, if the reason for their refusal directly affects their safety, it is essential to take action and bring this matter to the attention of your attorney as soon as possible.

What to Do if My Child Refuses Visitation

It can be difficult when your child refuses visitation. However, there are steps you can take to manage the situation.

1. Notify Your Co-Parent

If you find yourself in a situation where your child is refusing to visit their co-parent, it's crucial that you notify your co-parent immediately and document the incident in detail. Choose a method of communication that can produce reliable documentation, such as an email or a text message. This step is important because it proves when you informed your co-parent about the situation.

Additionally, try to work with your co-parent to come up with a plan to address your child's refusal to see them. If possible, encourage your co-parent to talk to your child and discuss their concerns through various communication channels such as text, calling, video calls, etc. This approach can help you find a solution that works for everyone involved.

2. Talk to Your Child

It's important to understand why your child doesn't want to spend time or stay with your co-parent. The first step is to allow your child to express their feelings to you without judgment. By listening without criticism, it will create a safe and open space for your child to talk.

Depending on what your child has to say, the answers might give you an opportunity to talk through and resolve the issue with the child and the other parent. Alternatively, the issue may be outside of the co-parent altogether. By giving your child the time and space to express their feelings, you can better navigate this difficult situation with your child's best interests in mind.

3. Encourage Visitation

When a child refuses to visit or stay with their other parent, parents can find themselves in a difficult position. However, it is crucial that court orders regarding visitation and parenting time are followed to avoid legal consequences. For example, if you fail to follow visitation orders, your co-parent could file a petition alleging that you violated orders.

As a parent, it's important to remember that you are the one responsible for making decisions that are best for your child, regardless of their current feelings or opinions on the matter.

While it's essential to consider your child's feelings, you still have a responsibility towards the visitation order. Ultimately, the best course of action is to thoughtfully consider your child's opinions while complying with court orders.

4. Consider Therapy

When faced with a child who is refusing to visit a parent, therapy may be a helpful solution. Sometimes, children struggle to articulate their reasons for their refusal or their explanations don't necessarily lead to easy resolution.

By considering family counseling, parents can gain help in coming up with a solution that works for everyone involved. Therapy can provide a space to discuss difficult emotions and build a stronger understanding of each other's perspectives, leading to a better outcome for all parties.

If you’re having visitation issues or concerns, contact our visitation attorneys. At the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC, we understand the nuances of family law and provide experienced advice and guidance for our client’s unique situation. Whether you need guidance in child custody, child support or any other family legal matters, our team is ready to assist you.

Call today at (845) 605-4330 or contact us online.

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