Can A Child Refuse to Visit the Non-Custodial Parent in Georgia?
Divorce cases involving children result in a custody order and visitation schedule stipulating how the divorcing parents will share parenting time. When the divorce is amicable, the parents can create a parenting plan that works for them and the children as they deem fit. They may hire family law attorneys in Alpharetta to mediate if the divorce is contested.
As the children age, they may not consent to the visitation schedule and may refuse to visit the non-custodial parent. However, their decision is still subject to judicial review. If your child has refused to comply with the visitation schedule, consult experienced family law experts to help you handle the issue.
At What Age Can a Child Refuse to Visit the Non-Custodial Parent?
The court can consider a child’s preference when determining custody and visitation, but that preference doesn’t control the court’s decision. In most cases, the court will go against the child’s wishes if it determines another arrangement is in the child’s best interests.
At the age of 14, the situation can be different. The child can choose to live with their preferred parent and not visit the other. Their wishes are not final, since the court will still review the decision in light of the child’s best interests. Alpharetta child custody lawyers can provide legal guidance on what this entails and what to expect.
How Does the Court Determine the Child’s Best Interests?
The judge will examine several factors in determining the child’s best interests. Such include the following:
- The living arrangements of both parents
- The custody wishes of both parents
- The mental and physical health of both parents
- The ability of each parent to care for the child
- Parental history of addiction and family violence
- Age, health, and welfare of the child
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
- The willingness of each parent to develop and nurture a strong positive relationship with the child
Let your child custody lawyers in Georgia know if there are other issues the court should consider in determining what’s best for the child. The lawyers can review the problems and decide how to present them in court as matters that deserve attention.
Can I Be Held Accountable If My Child refuses to Visit Their Other Parent?
When a child refuses to visit the non-custodial parent, it is considered a violation of the order. The problem is that the situation may not be as black and white as it seems. For example, law enforcement officers may not be sent to your house to enforce a visitation schedule. That would do more harm than good.
In some cases, the court may hold you accountable, in contempt, or in violation of a court order for failing to ensure the visitation schedule is followed. The court may schedule a hearing to find out from you why the child refuses visitation. Crucial factors that will affect the outcome include the following:
- The reasons the child gives for not wanting to visit the other parent
- The efforts you have put in to follow the visitation schedule
- The age of the child
- Any efforts made to compel visitation and if they were the same as if the child refused to go to school
- If you have punished or taken away some privileges from the child for refusing visitation
While it can be more challenging to force a teenager to comply with a visitation schedule than a preschooler or toddler, the court will still try to establish the efforts you made to do so. Depending on the circumstances, the judge may schedule mandatory child mediation and appoint a guardian ad litem to advocate for the child.
What Can I Do When My Child Refuses Visitation?
If the court finds yours to be a case of contempt for failed child visitation, you could be charged with a crime for interfering with the custody order. You can avoid going this way by ensuring your child complies with the schedule. It’s also important to let your Alpharetta family law attorneys know about the steps you took to try to enforce the order.
Your lawyer can also guide you on the additional legal steps you can take when your child doesn’t cooperate with the visitation. Remember that the more efforts you make, the less likely you will be to face contempt charges:
Notify and Document
Always contact the other parent when the child refuses visitation or switches in parenting time and explain what is happening. You could text or email them to have a written record that you contacted them. You may also contact your ex-spouse’s attorney if that is how they prefer you communicate with them.
Communicate and Listen
Talk to your child and establish why they don’t want to visit their other parent. The living arrangements in the other house have probably changed, making your child uncomfortable. The schedule could also conflict with your child’s school activities.
Be keen enough to pick cues of child abuse. If you suspect that’s the case, do everything you can to collect the evidence you need and get as many details as possible while being careful not to coach your child to say things that are not true. Bring this evidence to your child custody attorney in Alpharetta and let them help you file a temporary protective order in court.
The last resort will be to seek a child modification order if nothing else seems to be working. Check with the other parent if they agree to the modification to deal with the child’s lack of cooperation. Depending on the circumstances, the court will determine if you have met the threshold requirements for a modification order.
An Experienced Family Law Attorney Helping You Enforce a Visitation Schedule
Children are equally affected by their parent’s divorce. It may create a roller coaster of emotions, making them uncomfortable with the visitation schedule. Failure to comply may cause the court to hold you in contempt, so seek the help of skilled Alpharetta child custody lawyers before that happens.
Our law firm has been handling child custody matters for many years, and we know how complex the cases can be. We can help you resolve any custody and visitation issues that arise for an amicable co-existence. Contact us for a FREE initial case strategy session.