Child Custody: When Children Don’t Want to Visit

A young child holding onto her parents arm

Navigating issues relating to child custody can be a tense and frustrating experience for parents. It can also be a source of anxiety and unhappiness for children, who sometimes express that they do not want visitation. As children get older, their needs change. They become more involved in school, with extra-curricular activities, and with their friends.

Visitation with a noncustodial parent can feel disruptive to children, who feel comfortable where they are. When this happens, the noncustodial parent is left on the outside looking in and is probably searching for options. There is no easy answer to this question.

Enforcement of a Court Order

If there is a child custody order in place, both parents are legally bound to abide by the terms of that order. So even if a child is complaining that they do not want to visit or return from a visit, a parent is legally obligated to make it happen. Of course, if a child is kicking and screaming—especially an older child—there is not a reasonable expectation a parent to forcibly or unsafely make a visit happen. If you and the child’s other parent cannot amicably resolve this scenario, then it may be necessary to hire an attorney to address or enforce the custody order.

Seeking Counseling

As a parent, it may be more important to look at why a child does not want to visit than what the order says. Sadly, there are a lot of issues at play when a child does not want to visit a parent. Looking further than a child’s age, there are also relational issues at play between the parents, the influence that a custodial parent has in the child’s decision, and the actual relationship between the noncustodial parent and child. Further, is there a history or suspicion of abuse or neglect? These are complex issues that should be addressed thoughtfully and directly. Family therapy or individual therapy for the child can help a child and parents work toward a healthy resolution.

Seeking Modification of an Order

It may also be appropriate to seek a modification of an existing custody order. When determining issues of visitation and access, courts make decisions based on the best interest of the child. Among the factors that courts must consider is the desires of a child who is sufficiently mature to express such desire. While this is one of the factors a court must consider, it is not a controlling factor. In other words, a judge does not have to deny visitation simply because a child expresses that he or she does not want visitation. Instead, courts will weigh this desire with the totality of the child’s circumstances, including balancing the need for a continued parent-child relationship.

Seek Family Law Representation from Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P.

The family law attorneys at Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman, L.L.P. understand that your children are precious to you. We also understand the weight and gravity of child custody orders in what they mean for our clients’ relationships with their children. We have dedicated our careers to fighting for our clients’ parental rights and have done so through hard work, compassion, and integrity. You deserve a family law attorney who understands the law and who will stand up with you. Let us help you. Call Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P. today at (775) 227-2280 to schedule a consultation or contact our office through our website.

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