When Children Refuse Visitation

Divorce comes with many changes, especially in the lives of children who are involved. Suddenly, their parents are living in different homes, and they may have to spend time in a new place that is unfamiliar. Divorce agreements will include a custody arrangement for children, which usually involves one parent taking on the role of primary caregiver and the other having periodic visitation. Parents are required to adhere to the agreed-upon visitation schedule, but what happens when children do not want to participate?

There are many reasons why a child may not want to go on a scheduled visit, depending on their unique circumstances. In many cases, the custodial parent stays in the family home, and they may not want to stay somewhere else.  Children may feel that they are missing out on important events or time with friends, especially as they get older, or it may interfere with their school schedule.  If the visiting parent is seeing someone new, that can make children uncomfortable. Sadly, there are situations where the children might face emotional of physical abuse when staying with one parent.

Legal Obligations of Parents

These situations can put the custodial parent in a very difficult position. On the one hand, the other parent has the right to see their child, and the custodial parent is obligated to comply with the visitation schedule. There can be legal consequences if they fail to do so, as they are violating their custody order. On the other hand, parents do not want to compel their children to spend time somewhere they are not comfortable, or worse, somewhere they might suffer trauma.

It is up to the discretion of the judge whether the custody order must be enforced. Judges must act in the best interests of the child, which usually includes preserving a relationship with both parents, and the parents can face penalties if they try to interfere with the court-ordered custody schedule. If either the child or one of the parents wants to make a change to the custody order, they must make a compelling argument as to why this would benefit the child more than the current arrangement.

What Parents Can Do

There are steps that parents can take to ease the situation. Talking to children can help get to the root of why they do not want to participate in the visitation; both parents should be part of the conversation so that they can work toward a solution. Meeting with a counselor can also help resolve issues and may help reveal serious problems that would necessitate a change. It is important for the custodial parent to communicate openly whenever the child will not participate in visitation, and they should document their attempts to stick to the schedule.  Parents are required to make the child reasonably available for visitation, but they do not have to physically force their child out the door, particularly if the child is older and can make decisions for themselves.

Baltimore Child Custody Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Clients Find Custody Solutions for Their Family

If you have a concern regarding child custody, the Baltimore child custody lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC will thoroughly review the facts of your case and help you decide on the best possible outcome for your family while protecting your rights. Call us today at 443-589-0150 or contact us online for a free consultation. Conveniently located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we help families throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.

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