When a child refuses to visit with the non-custodial parent the problem is very significant. Parenting and seeing the child on a regular and meaningful basis is vital for both the parent and child. Both the parent and the child suffer when visitation is interrupted. Without a desire to be politically incorrect, these issues more often are raised by
fathers. These issues arise whether the parents were married and
divorced or never married.
The first question that I ask is the age of the child. If a child is 14 years old or older it will be difficult to compel visitation if the child adamantly refuses. A younger age child can still be told and will usually, but not always, visit if told it is not an option.
The second question may be how many children are there and are they all refusing vistation or is it solely one child?
The third question is why is the child refusing visitation. Is it because of parental alienation? Is it because of something that happened during a prior visitation or phone call with the child? Is it because the child has an activity planned and the schedule is the problem? Is it because the child is angry because the non-custodial parent will not pay for something the child wants? As you can see there are so many different reasons that may be the cause or a contributor to the problem. Each situation has to be handled differently. There is no one answer that fits all situations. Even the age of the child is not the only determining factor.
The issue of joint custody or
sole custody does not determiine the outcome of the problem.
Parents will ask whether they should call the police to document the child not going and of interest is the fact that both parents may choose to call the police. The problem with calling the police is that the child can be traumatized as well. The child may think the police will make the child go or that the custodial parent will be arrested if the child does not go.
Filing a petition in court for the enforcement of the order or to obtain make-up visitation can be a long drawn out process. The court may appoint an attorney for the child. The court may, if there are allegations of parental neglect or abuse, order an investigation by Child Protective Services. Allegations of parental alienation may lead to the appointment of a psychologist to determine the cause of the child's anger toward the parent.
Unfortunately, these are some of the most difficult cases when the lines of communication and respect between the parents have broken down. Not only do the parents suffer emotionally, psychologically and financially but the children do as well. This issue is much too complex to fully discuss in a blog post, however it is clear that the problem must be addressed as quickly as possible when it arises. The more weeks without visitation the harder the problem becomes to resolve.
When these problems arise you should strongly consider having an experienced matrimonial lawyer represent you. These cases are complex and there are many subtleties and nuances that family law attorneys learn from handling these type of matters on a regular basis. If you want legal representation, please call my office so that I can help maintain your parental rights and dignity.