Why Teenagers Refuse Visitation and What to Do About It

Teenagers can be difficult in the best of situations, but divorced or separated parents might find that teenagers rebel against the parenting time schedule put in place by the court. You already have enough to deal with without this extra headache. You may wonder what you can do about it. Yet, there is a legal duty on your part to see that the schedule is adhered to. Here are a few helpful suggestions to meet this challenge head on.

As children enter their teen years, they become more anxious to make their own decisions, especially concerning their social lives. This sense of independence can manifest itself as a resistance to spending time with the non-custodial parent. Specific reasons for a teenager refusing visitation could include:

  • Feeling more at home with one parent over the other
  • Favoring more lenient rules of behavior at one parent’s house
  • Blaming one parent for causing the divorce
  • Having to share with step-siblings in one home
  • Boredom, moodiness or unwillingness to communicate
  • Abuse or neglect by either parent

These reasons and others could be why your teenager does not want to follow the parenting or visitation schedule. By attempting to identify the issue, you may be able to decide on remedial action. There are some practical steps you can take:

  1. Modify the schedule — The issue may be that the schedule makes it difficult to see friends or enjoy extracurricular activities. Changing the schedule may be possible with court approval.
  2. Encourage communication — Both parents should encourage a healthy line of communication with the teen. If a teen refuses visitation with one parent, that relationship needs some work. Open communication can make a big difference.
  3. Be flexible — Respect the teen’s independence and work around the teen’s schedule when possible, especially if your teenager makes a reasonable request.
  4. Consider a counselor — If the situation cannot be resolved with less intensive measures, a counselor may be helpful in determining the cause for the refusal and in facilitating a resolution.
  5. Look for abuse or neglect — Some teens refuse their visitation because of abuse by a parent, a step-sibling or another person in the home. If this is found to have occurred, legal intervention is necessary.

It is vital to keep in mind that a teen’s refusal to visit does not relieve you of your legal obligations under the parenting time schedule. Only a court can modify the schedule and only in justifiable circumstances. A skilled child custody attorney should be consulted if you cannot resolve the impasse on your own.

At Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, Arizona, we understand the challenges teenagers can pose to visitation schedules. To discuss these and other issues relating to child custody, contact us online or call 602-789-3497 for a consultation.