It’s fairly common at times for children to refuse to visitation with a noncustodial parent, especially when they enter their teens. Sometimes their reasons raise serious concerns, such as if they say their other parent is drinking or doing drugs or is behaving abusively. Most of the time, though, it’s because they are growing up and teens simply do not like spending time with their parents!
Whatever the reason, a child’s refusal to allow visitation can put a custodial parent in a bad position. Not complying with legally ordered visitation can mean legal trouble for a custodial parent. On the other hand, it’s difficult to force a teenager to visit a parent if they refuse. So what should you do if your teen is refusing to visit their other parent?
First, realize that a court will probably view the opinions of a 17-year-old differently than those of a 13-year-old. A teen so close to becoming a legal adult will probably have his or her desire to limit visitation followed. However, while a 13-year-old’s opinion may be taken into consideration, it is not decisive.
That said, withholding custody can be grounds for a change in custody so you want to do what you can to avoid going to court if possible. Talk with your reluctant teenager about their reasons for wanting to skip visits with their other parent to determine if they do have valid reasons or if it is something more innocuous like having their time with friends disrupted. Depending on their reasons, there are a couple of ways to go.
If their reasons for not visiting can be chalked up to typical teen longings to spend time with friends rather than family, explain to them the seriousness of violating a court order. Let them know you understand that divorce is hard on everyone, but that their other parent is still going to be a part of their lives. In many cases, a simple compromise or two may satisfy all parties. If you are on good terms with your ex, talk with him or her about possible changes to your parenting plan that can accommodate your growing teen.
If the reasons for refusing to visit the other parent have more sinister overtones, then it’s time to get your attorney involved. You will need to talk about your concerns and the specific incidents that occurred. If you find you want to change visitation, you will need facts and evidence to show the other parent is unfit.
Protecting your interests and achieving results that support your needs is what you can expect from Murphy & Cistaro. Contact us today for your free consultation.