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What if your child is refusing visitation?

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2024 | Family Law

Divorce is usually emotionally charged and complex, especially when it comes to the children. It can be particularly distressing if your child starts refusing to visit the other parent as ordered by the visitation schedule.

How do you navigate such a situation?

The legal implications

In California, the court prefers children to have a relationship with both of their parents unless there is a compelling reason not to, such as abuse or domestic violence. If a child refuses to participate in the agreed-upon visitation, it could result in legal consequences for the custodial parent, including being held in contempt of court.

Your first step should be to have an open conversation with your child and try to understand the reason behind their refusal. Some common reasons may be:

  • They are angry with the other parent.
  • They don’t like their routine disrupted.
  • They don’t like their other parent’s rules.
  • They miss out on activities with their friends.
  • They have issues with the other parent’s new partner.

Once you understand the root cause, you can address the issue. Even if you and your ex have a strained relationship, it’s important to avoid speaking negatively about the other parent to and in front of your child. It can impact their emotions, and they may feel guilty about spending time with their other parent.

It’s also crucial to involve the other parent and keep the lines of communication open. The other parent may not be aware of the issues causing the child’s reluctance. Having an honest discussion lets you see if you can reach a solution together.

You may want to consider getting input from a therapist who specializes in working with children. They can provide a safe space for your child to express their feelings and concerns and offer possible strategies to cope with the situation.

The child’s best interest should always be the priority. By offering them support and understanding, you will be able to help them through this difficult time.