Every divorced parent at one time or another has to deal with a child who refuses to go along with a planned visit. This often leaves a parent wondering what is actually happening with their child and what to do about the situation, especially since the visitation schedule is court ordered and compliance is expected.
There are many reasons why a child might not want to visit the non-custodial parent. Perhaps they have a legitimate reason for not wanting to go. Perhaps there are some issues with the non-custodial parent’s new significant other. Or, perhaps they are teenagers and are expressing resentment over how the visitation schedule affects their own plans.
Regardless of the cause, it’s a sensitive situation. You don’t want to be the heavy hand and force the child to go. On the other hand, you can get in trouble if you fail to follow a court order.
As divorced or separated parent, you have a responsibility to follow the visitation schedule as ordered by the court. This entails making sure that the non-custodial parent has access to see the child and following all the terms of the custody order.
A non-custodial parent who misses visitation can file a Contempt motion with the court and claim that you are not following the terms of the custody agreement. This is true even if the parent wants the child to visit, and the child is refusing to go. If you are facingmy child is refusing visitation
a contempt motion, you will have to show that you, as the parent, are doing everything possible to obey the order, but the child won’t cooperate. While a judge may be sympathetic to a teenager’s cry for more independence, this is not guaranteed and certainly won’t be the case for a younger child.
The simple answer is document everything. Make sure you document in writing or via video your child’s refusal to go. You should also immediately contact the non-custodial parent and your family law attorney. Don’t just document the child’s refusal to go. Also document the steps you took as the parent to get the child to cooperate with the visitation schedule. If there is a court order that you not have contact with your ex, it is vital that you contact your attorney as soon as possible.
If feasible, this can also be a time for shared parental responsibility. You aren’t the only parent who needs to speak to the child. Have your ex speak to the child and encourage their help in securing the child’s cooperation. They should be helping to make visits happen.
Of course, if you have concerns as a parent that your child is potentially at risk for abusive behavior with your ex, you need to immediately contact your attorney to find out what your options are. Barring a harmful situation, the court expects that you do everything humanly possible to make sure the visits happen as scheduled.
You’re in a difficult position as a parent with a child that refuses visitation. Make sure you are documenting everything and involve the other parent, if possible.
Your family attorney can help, especially if you are served with a contempt motion. An experienced family law attorney, such as Edidiong Aaron at Family Matters Law Group, can be an asset in a situation like this. With experience serving clients in Henry, Clayton, and Fayette counties, as well as the greater metro Atlanta area, FMLG can help you find solutions when your ability to follow a visitation order is compromised.
Contact us today. If you need help with a custody arrangement, we’re ready to hear your story!