Can a Child Decide to Skip Visitation? / by Cassandra Hearn

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Custody battles and divorce cases are difficult for everyone in the family. It necessarily means that big changes are on the horizon for the adults and the children in the family. Both during and after the divorce or custody case, children may have feelings of turmoil, resentment, or anger directed at one or both parents. This can make visitation and custody difficult.

Accordingly, it is common for one of the children to not want to go with the other parent when it comes time to exchange the children. In some cases, the child may even refuse to go with the other parent. However, the parents are still bound by the court order and the parents are the ones responsible for making sure that they live up to their responsibilities, such as delivering the child to the other parent at the time and place specified by the order. In other words, the child does not get to decide whether or not the visitation will take place. 

If you have a child who is refusing or strongly resisting visitation with the other parent, you should take time to discuss this with your child. In some cases the child may simply be having so much fun at your house that he or she simply wishes to remain there. In other cases, the child may not feel comfortable at the other parent’s new residence yet. Having a simple and gentle talk with your child is an important first step to determining the source of the conflict. You may also want to consider family counseling, possibly even including you, the other parent, and the child. This could help you and the other parent understand the issues together and develop a strategy to help put the child at ease. 

If you believe that the child is uncomfortable or fearful of the other residence for valid reasons that cannot be corrected through simple counseling, it may be necessary for you to file a motion with the court seeking to modify the custody order.

Custody issues can be emotionally complicated for parents and children alike.  If you have questions about your custody order, call us today for an appointment at 619-800-0384.