What to Do if a Child is Refusing Visitation

As part of your parenting agreement or your court-ordered parenting plan, your child likely spends time with you and their other parent based on a visitation schedule. You may encounter problems if the child does not want to follow the visitation plan. There are some steps you can take to handle this kind of situation.

Figure Out Why the Child is Refusing Visits

There are many reasons why a child may not be comfortable visiting with the other parent, but not all of these are cause for concern. Here are some common reasons why a child may refuse visitation:

  • They think one parent is stricter than the other
  • They are afraid the other parent will miss them while they are gone
  • They think one parent wants them to dislike the other parent
  • They find something about the other parent’s home uncomfortable
  • They may not like their toys, clothes, or bedroom in the other home
  • Going back and forth could be stressful for the child
  • There may be problems with school or friends
  • Teenagers may want to spend time with friends or make their own decisions

Try to talk your child without assigning any blame on the other parent or trying to guess what really happened during their visitation time. When trying to learn more, ask open-ended, non-threatening questions such as:

  • Can you tell me a little bit more about why you don’t want to go?
  • Can we talk a little bit about why you’re uncomfortable?
  • What is it that might be bothering you?

Talk with the Other Parent

It may be hard to keep emotions out of the situation, but you could try to have a conversation with the other parent about your concerns. See if you can come up with any solutions together than will positively impact visitation in the future.

Encourage the Child to Visit

Forcing a child to attend visitation is not good for anyone’s relationship, so it’s always better if you can figure out what’s going on. Although a court can order a child to attend, this might make things worse. Instead, see how you can make the visit easier on the child. Your child may be looking for you to affirm that it’s okay for them to visit with the other parent and to have fun with them. Avoid conveying any negative feelings about the other parent. Don’t make your child feel responsible for any of your feelings of sadness or anger.  As a parent, you should avoid violating your custody order unless you believe there is a risk of imminent harm to your child. Teenagers may be able to speak up for themselves so that parents or the court may adjust or end visitation.

Always talk with an attorney about what to do before you make a decision to force your child to visit or keep your child from the other parent. Contact the Law Offices of Allyson B. Goldscher to get support in handling complex issues around child visitation in MD.


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