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What to Do if Your Child Refuses to Visit You as the Custody Order Requires

Joint custody orders provide for both parents spending time with their children regularly, which is meant to promote keeping their relationships close and strong. However, as a child grows older, they may show resistance to spending time with one of the parents. If you feel your rightful visitation with your child is being compromised, there are steps you can take.

In Arizona, decisions on parenting time are made based on what the divorce court finds to be in the child’s best interests. A court often takes an older child’s preferences into consideration when approving a parenting time schedule, but once it is ordered, the child has no right to refuse to comply. In practical terms, however, it is difficult to force a child — especially a teenager — to do something they don’t want to do. What’s more, a court-enforced visit is not likely to be enjoyable for the parent or the child.

If your child has stated an objection to visiting with you, find the true reasons why. It could be that the child has planned activities or social engagements that would conflict with a visit. In that case, the visit can simply be rescheduled. If you can’t get answers from the child, try to enlist the other parent’s help. Discuss the situation with the other parent to determine if a resolution can be reached. For example, you may agree to alter the parenting time schedule by switching visitation days in a way that better suits the child’s life activities and lets them be closer to their school on weekdays. The other parent has a legal interest in encouraging the child’s continued relationship with you, since that parent is bound to follow the custody order.

If you get insufficient cooperation from the other parent, you may need to file a petition with the court to enforce your parenting time or to modify the custody order. In such a case, you should consult with an Arizona child custody lawyer to make sure your rights are protected. The court may appoint a special investigator to meet with the child, without either parent present, to gain insight into why the child is refusing visitation. The only reasons that might be found valid are those related to the child’s health and safety. A child cannot refuse visitation just because one home is more luxurious, has better food or has fewer rules. Once the reasons for refusal are determined, the investigator will report back to the court, which will then decide whether to intervene. The court’s focus will be on making sure parenting rights are enforced and consistent with what is in the child’s best interests.

If you need to enforce or modify an Arizona parenting schedule, Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale is ready to assist. We provide knowledgeable advice and effective representation. For a free initial consultation, call us at 602-789-3497 or contact us online.

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