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Steps to Take if Your Child Refuses Visitation with the Non-Custodial Parent

You spent months, possibly even years, mediating or litigating the many different terms of your divorce, including child custody arrangements. Like all orders issued during a divorce, child custody orders are final and legally binding. All parties, particularly the parents, have a legal responsibility to comply with these orders. In child custody cases, that includes complying with the visitation schedule.

Many parents are aware of the serious penalties associated with violating court orders and so, they often do their best to make sure they are in compliance. However, what can parents do when it is the child that refuses to comply with the visitation schedule? Our Texas child custody lawyer explains the steps to take below.

Remember You are in Charge

It is no secret that divorce is extremely hard on children. To make this difficult time easier, some parents give in to their child’s requests, even when they are not reasonable. It is important to not allow your feelings of guilt to dictate how you treat or parent your child. Remember, there are serious legal consequences that you, not your child, will face if you do not comply with the child custody order. It is your responsibility to ensure that you comply with the visitation schedule.

This does not mean that you should not take your child’s feelings into consideration. Tell them that you and your former spouse both love them very much and that it is beneficial for everyone if they spend time with each of you. Also, consider your own behavior. Do not speak poorly of your ex in front of your child, or do anything else that may make your child reluctant to visit. You may not realize you are making faces or snide comments but even young children are observant and could be influenced into not wanting to visit the other parent. 

Ask Your Child Why They Do Not Want to Visit

It is critical that you understand the reason your child does not want to visit the other parent. Perhaps the reason is something as small as your ex being overly strict about homework. Or, maybe the reason is much more serious, such as when domestic violence is involved. Ask your child their reason for not wanting to visit, and do so without judgment. Tell them that you take their concerns very seriously, while also showing that you have to consider the needs of the entire family.

Work with Your Co-Parent

Co-parenting is not always easy but if possible, speak to your co-parent about the situation. Tell them why your child does not want to visit and ask them to keep a calm and level head about it. Ask your co-parent if they could connect with your child in another manner, at least for the time being. Video chats and phone calls can allow your co-parent to remain a part of the child’s life, while also keeping the environment a low-stress one for the child.

Meeting together as a group with a family therapist or other mental health professional can also be very beneficial. A professional can help all family members understand the root cause of the problem so they can resolve the problem. A mental health professional can also help family members, such as your child and co-parent, restore the bonds they once shared.

Set Yourself Up for Smooth Visitation Transitions

If your child is refusing visitation, even small problems during the visitation transition can make it that much more difficult for the child. Make sure they will have everything they will need during the time they are with the parent. Remind them that visitation is coming up so they are not surprised. Keep transitions short and sweet. Tell your child that you love them and miss them, but that you want them to have fun with their other parent. 

Even before the actual transition takes place, remember to remain positive about the upcoming visitation. Talk about any fun things you know your child is going to do, and how they will be able to spend time with their other parent, and potentially even step-siblings. Focus on the good, so your child can too.

Call a Child Custody Lawyer in Texas

While it is sometimes difficult for adults to comply with a visitation schedule, children often find it challenging, as well. If your child is refusing visitation with the other parent, you need to make sure that you are protecting yourself legally. At Ramos Law Group, PLLC, our Texas child custody lawyer can inform you of your legal options and the additional steps you should take if your child still refuses to visit your co-parent. Call us now at 713-225-6200 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more about your legal options.

Last Updated on February 7, 2023 by Mary E. Ramos

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Mary E. Ramos

Mary E. Ramos is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She is recognized and respected throughout the Houston legal community for dedication in effectively representing clients’ rights and interests. Mary understands the emotional side of divorce and brings a special compassion to each and every case.

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