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Child Refuses to Visit

Problems regarding child custody and visitation are an unfortunate experience that most divorced parents face, even after an amicable divorce.  It is almost inevitably the case that a child, at some point in time, will refuse to visit with the other parent. If this occurs, it often places the custodial parent in a very uncomfortable position. This in turn leads the custodial parent to query: “Do I make them go, or do I side with my child and let her skip the visitation? What should I do?”

It is always important to listen to your child's feelings and opinions concerning visitation, but it is equally important for your child to spend quality time with both parents. Even though there may be times that your child would rather not visit with his or her other parent, if visitation is ordered by a court, it is not optional. Visitation as it is ordered by a court must be complied with.

That said, there are steps you can take to ease the friction that may be caused by your child’s refusal to visit with the non-custodial parent.

First, talk to your child. Ask why he or she does not wish to visit with the non-custodial parent. There may be real problems with visitation that lead to a child's refusal to go. If there are major issues that affect your child’s safety or welfare, you should contact an attorney in order to decide if it makes sense to seek a modification of visitation or custody.

On the other hand, if your child is simply dissatisfied with the other parent, or does not particularly like the other parents company, this is not ideal, but it is not sufficient to deny the other parent visitation.  If your child has complaints about visitation, suggest that he or she discuss them with the other parent. If your child is not able to articulate the complaints, you should consider conveying the message for him or her. Remember that your child’s perceptions may not be totally objective, so do not accuse the other parent of wrongdoing. Simply convey your child’s concerns and work with the other parent to find a solution.

In addition to speaking to your child about why he or she does not wish to visit the other parent, you should also reassure your child that she is loved by both parents and that visitation is simply a way to ensure the she will always have the love and support of both parents. This explanation that visitation is meant to serve her best interests may be helpful in persuading your child to resume the normal visitation schedule.

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