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Refusing Visitations: Are Children Forced to See Their Non-Custodial Parent?

Divorce is already difficult enough. When children are involved, an already troubled situation can go from bad to worse. If you are wondering how to best handle the experience with your children, you aren’t alone. More than 1 million children are affected by divorce each year. A visitation attorney can help ease this difficult transition for your family.

Even if your divorce is already finalized, you may have questions that remain. For instance, what happens if a child refuses to see their non-custodial parent? 

We know that this is a sensitive topic, and we want you to have all of the information you need to move forward in a healthy way. Keep reading, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Can a child refuse visitation?

In some states, there are laws that dictate at what age a child can begin to refuse visitation. There is no such law in the state of Arizona. Instead, each situation is judged on a case-by-case basis. 

Children often do not get to choose whether they attend a court-mandated visitation. However, there are some instances in which the child’s wishes will impact the court’s decisions — especially if their age and maturity level are more advanced. If you believe there should be an exception, speak with your attorney.

What if the child refuses to see the non-custodial parent?

When the court decides how visitation should be divided, both parents are legally obligated to uphold the decision. So even if your child resists the agreement, you are bound by law to do everything in your power to ensure the visitations go as scheduled. 

If you fail to bring your child to an appointment, you will be violating a court-mandated term. As a result, the entire custody agreement could be put into jeopardy.

If you are the non-custodial parent and the other party is not meeting their end of the bargain, you can ask for help from the court. It is possible to request enforcement from the court for each mandated visit. 

When the efforts of both the court and the parents are not enough, it may be time to consider a modification of the custodial arrangement, a visitation attorney can help with this. If both parents agree that a change would be in the child’s best interests, the court will likely approve it.

How to Make Court-Mandated Visits More Comfortable for Your Unwilling Child

If you would rather not involve the court until it becomes absolutely necessary, there are some other tactics you might try. Making the visit more comfortable for the child can impact their willingness to attend. Here are a few tips that might make a difference:

  • Adjust the visitation schedule so that it aligns with the child’s schedule
  • Allow the child to contact their custodial parent via text or call during the visit
  • Accommodate your home to their needs
  • Ask the child for feedback on what they would like to do during the visit
  • Ask your ex for support so that you are both on the same page

We understand that it can be difficult to work with a divorced partner, particularly if the end of your relationship was less than amicable. But if you can present a united front, your child will gradually begin to feel more at ease. 

When to Call an Attorney About Visitation Issues

If you believe that the other parent is manipulating, bribing, or abusing your child, you should call your attorney immediately. Proving this scenario can be difficult, but it is worth the effort to ensure that your child is in a safe and healthy home. 

Call Cohen Family Law in Phoenix, AZ, to learn more about this aspect of family law.