What If My Child Refuses Visitation?
As a co-parent who shares custody of your child, you’ll need to abide by the terms of your parenting plan, which will include visits with his or her other parent. These visits could go smoothly, or in some cases, you might find that your child doesn’t wish to visit the other parent, but wants to stay with you. Read on to learn more about what to consider if your own child refuses visitation with a co-parent.
Discuss the Issue with Your Child
If your child refuses visitation or expresses an unwillingness to visit his or her other parent, you should be sure to carefully discuss the matter, attempting to determine why the child feels that way. By discussing your child’s feelings you can get to the root of the issue and help your child reach a better understanding of the importance of co-parenting. During this conversation, you may want to consider asking your child the following questions:
- Whether there is a specific reason that the child doesn’t want to visit the co-parent;
- Whether they feel unsafe or uncomfortable in the other parent’s home; and
- What they would like to do during the visitation period instead.
The answers to these questions can help dictate your next steps. If a child only wants to hang out with friends or attend soccer practice, you can feel comfortable sending the child to the other parent’s home, with the understanding that maybe they can engage in some of those activities there. If, on the other hand, your child reveals that they feel unsafe with the other parent, you may need to request a modification of your current parenting plan.
Follow Your Custody Arrangement
Parenting plans are court orders, which means that while you may not want to send your child to visitation against his or her wishes, you will usually be required to comply with the terms of that agreement until you receive court-approved modification. You can be held accountable for failing to abide by the terms of the agreement, even if the child is the reason behind the limited visits. There is, of course, an exception for those who fear that their child may be in danger. In these cases, you should immediately speak with an attorney about requesting an emergency custody order.
Stay in Contact
If your child doesn’t want to visit a co-parent due to homesickness, you should consider putting a plan in place, so that your child can contact you if they feel scared or unsafe. Creating such a plan can help show your child that while they do have to comply with their visitation, you are looking out for their best interests. Be sure to keep your cell phone on you during visitation, so you can respond to your child in a timely manner. If you believe that your parenting plan is no longer in your child’s best interests, be sure to consult with an attorney about the modification process.
Call Today for Help with Your Case
If your child is refusing visitation, we can help you pursue an adjustment to your parenting plan. Schedule a consultation with experienced Fort Lauderdale child visitation and time-sharing attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. today.