Contact Us for a Free Consultation 818-528-3471

Child Refuses Visitation

What If Your Child Refuses Visitation with the Other Parent?

After a visitation agreement with your former spouse is in place, you expect the terms and conditions to be followed. Thus far, your kids have not had any complaints when the time arrives for an exchange. However, your child is suddenly refusing to visit with their other parent.

Of relevant note is that California child custody agreements are legally binding. Suppose the court has approved them, but now one parent has breached the agreement. In that case, there are consequences, including court sanctions. It doesn't matter if the breach was due to a child refusing to cooperate with visitation.

What If Your Child Refuses Visitation with the Other Parent?
You are expected to follow all the terms and conditions of the child visitation agreement.

In other words, until a child reaches the age of 18, is emancipated, or the court modifies the child custody agreement, it has to be followed. The custodial parent is expected to attempt to comply with the visitation schedule reasonably.

We have been asked whether the age of the child matters. The legal answer is no, but it can have some impact. Suppose a young child or a toddler refuses visitation with the other parent. In that case, the custodial parent would be wise to follow the visitation arrangement.

Suppose an older teenager refuses visitation. In that case, it's much more complicated, but you are still expected to follow court orders. At 14, a child can typically state a custodial preference. It would be best if you attempted to mutually agree with your spouse and avoid court intervention.

Divorced parents can find themselves in a struggle to enforce their visitation rights. In addition, once kids reach a certain age, they sometimes get tired of the exchanges and are forced to stay in different homes. Perhaps one parent is alienating the child from the other parent.

Simply put, as most parents know, children will reach an age where they will seek some independence and refuse to visit their other parents any longer.

Perhaps they don't like sleeping in a different bedroom. Maybe there are abuse issues by the other parent, such as domestic violence. Our California family law lawyers will review this topic further below.

What About Contempt of Court?

Just to let you know, child custody agreements are legal contracts that both the custodial and noncustodial parents must follow until the child turns 18 or the court modifies it.

Regardless of any reasons by a child to not follow the arrangement, it could be considered a breach of the court order, which is contempt of court.

What is Contempt of Court?
Child custody agreements are legal contracts.

Suppose a parent is not getting their visitation time with their kids. In that case, they can apply for an Order to Show Cause and Affidavit for Contempt (Form FL-410

A hearing will be scheduled, and the judge must enforce the custody order through civil or criminal contempt of court. Simply put, a parent cannot intentionally interfere with visitation.

However, family courts are aware of the circumstances that often arise when a child refuses visitation. A custodial parent is expected to do something to prevent the child from refusing to visit. Their age is often a significant factor; as noted, 14 is the average age when a court will listen to their preference.

California Family Code 3042 says, (a) If a child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason to form an intelligent preference as to custody or visitation, the court shall consider, and give due weight to, the wishes of the child in making an order granting or modifying custody or visitation.”

The judge will decide whether a child testifies in court. Older children could be allowed, but they would never be forced to testify.

What Should You Do When Your Kid Refuses Visitation?

If your child is refusing visitation with their other parent, you would be wise to take some steps to cover yourself in case the matter ends up in court.

The obvious first step is to talk with your child to find out why they don't want to follow the visitation schedule. Perhaps valid reasons related to their best interest need to be dealt with. If there is still an issue, then you document the refusals by writing down the following information:

  • Date and time of each refusal;
  • The child's reasons for refusing visitation;
  • When you told your former spouse;
  • Reaction by your former spouse;
  • Efforts you made to resolve the issue;
  • All communications between both parents.

Listening to your kid's concerns and talking about them is an excellent way to show how much you care and love them. In some cases, it could even resolve their refusal of visitation.

Can You Improve a Child's Level of Cooperation?

Possibly. If your child refuses to comply with court-ordered visitation, there might be some ways to help them, but there are no easy answers. Some suggestions include the following:

  • Sit down and calmly discuss their concerns;
  • Don't criticize the other parent in front of them;
  • Talk to the other parent about their concerns;
  • Avoid court intervention if possible;
  • Seek help from a mental health professional;
  • Enlist the help of other family members;
  • You get help from a therapist.

Perhaps a mental health professional can explain why your child refuses to visit their other parent. Maybe they could give you some helpful guidance.

Can You Improve a Child’s Level of Cooperation?
There may be some ways to improve cooperation.

Suppose the best solution is to seek a child custody modification. In that case, you should seek legal representation from a California child custody attorney with experience dealing with changes.

A qualified lawyer can help you modify an existing parenting agreement to please everyone involved while following the visitation requirements. They could even help you draft a new parenting plan. If your child is refusing visitation and you need to discuss your legal options, contact our law firm by phone or use the contact form.

While we know there are generally no easy answers, we will examine the details of your situation and work toward a favorable resolution. Your child's best interest is always a top priority.

If you have questions about what to do when your children refuse to visit their other parent, give us a call to discuss the matter. We offer a free case consultation. Furman & Zavatsky are Los Angeles family law and divorce lawyers who provide legal representation across California.

Call a Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer

Family law disputes have the potential to have a significant impact on your quality of life and overall happiness. As a result, it is critical for you to protect your rights to the fullest extent possible when involved in a dispute related to family law. The lawyers of Furman & Zavatsky have the skill and experience to resolve your case as favorably as possible and provide compassionate and understanding legal counsel and representation. We also offer flat fee legal services for divorce and family law issues.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our Los Angeles divorce attorneys, call our office today at 818-528-3471. Read our blog on how to prepare for your first meeting with a divorce lawyer.

Furman & Zavatsky
17200 Ventura Blvd., #105
Encino, CA 91316
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri: 09:00am - 05:00pm