What Happens When a Child Refuses to Visit the Other Parent?

Arizona law favors custody arrangements that give children as much time as possible with both parents. Psychological research shows this is usually in the child’s best interests, as kids with a close relationship with mom and dad tend to thrive compared to peers who don’t get ample time with both parents.

But what happens when it’s the child who objects to spending time with a parent? If you’re granted primary child custody, you’re obligated to comply with the order issued by the court. But if you find yourself fighting with a child who balks every time they’re supposed to visit your ex, what are your options?

First, it’s important to understand the true reasons for the child’s reluctance to visit. These are among the common reasons children refuse visitation:

  • The child misses their primary home and feels out of place in the other parent’s home.
  • The other parent’s home is located a significant distance from the child’s friends or school.
  • The other parent has certain rules or behavioral expectations the child finds uncomfortable.
  • The other parent has a new partner, who may have his or her own children.
  • The child and the other parent have a strained relationship.
  • The child blames the other parent for causing the divorce.

It’s also normal for children to voice objections as they enter their teen years. They typically get more involved in extracurricular activities and outings with friends, and visitation with the other parent may interfere.

These objections vary in intensity and cause. Some of them can possibly be worked out by making the transition from one household to another more pleasant and less disruptive. Others may require deeper analysis, perhaps with the aid of a counselor or therapist. In some cases, a modification of visitation may be called for.

If you have an amicable relationship with your ex, you may informally agree to modify the visitation schedule. However, you should still present it to the court for approval. This ensures there are no misunderstandings in the future should a disagreement arise.

There are situations in which a parent with primary custody may be justified in refusing visitation, such as when there is a legitimate concern that the child’s health or safety are in peril. Still, court approval is required to limit or discontinue visitation on this basis. If you suspect the other parent has been abusive toward the child or has acted in a way that makes it unsafe for that parent to exercise visitation, you should act quickly to raise your concerns with the court.

The child custody lawyers at Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, Arizona, help parents with a variety of child support and custody matters. To speak to one of our knowledgeable lawyers about your case, call us at 602-789-3497 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.