Family Law Articles - Florida Law
What to Do When Your Child Refuses Visitation
By David Roberts | Family Law Attorney
Posted on October 26, 2018
As a parent, it’s tough to watch your child go through feelings of sadness, frustration, confusion, and loneliness after you and your spouse get divorced. Older children that are aware of the situation often blame one of their parents for the breakup, and because of that, begin doing everything they can to keep from spending time with them.
When a child refuses visitation with a parent, it creates an uncomfortable situation for both the parents and the child. No parent wants to force their crying child to leave when they don’t want to. Similarly, no parent wants to feel like their child hates them as they watch them beg not to go.
Whether it’s because the child doesn’t like to transition, or because the child isn’t a fan of their mom or dad’s new significant other, you must try to understand the cause of your child refusing visitation before you can begin resolving the issue.
Below are some common reasons your child may refuse visitation and what you can do to help the situation.
- The parent and child feed off each other’s anxiety each time they have to make the transition from one household to the other. To prevent this from continuing to happen, try to stay as calm and confident as possible while listening to and respecting your child’s feelings. By seeing you remain strong, the child will have more confidence that you will be okay while they are away. So, instead of telling them that you want them to stay with you too, let them know that you understand they’re worried, but you want them to go and have fun.
- Sometimes a child doesn’t want to visit a parent because they have certain friends they don’t want to part from, or because the other parent requires them to do specific chores they want to avoid. The child will begin manipulating the parent to let them stay by making them feel bad. Listen to their concerns, but still give them the positive push they need to let them know it’s okay to go.
- Another reason a child may not want to leave is that they are being influenced by the parent who may tell them how much fun they’ll miss while they’re away or how sad they get when the child is gone. These actions are not only harmful to the child but can put a parent in legal jeopardy, especially when going against a Family Court order. You should never keep your child away from the other parent, and instead you should instead encourage contact with the other parent. Even if you’re still upset about the divorce and want to punish your ex, the person you end up hurting the most is your child.
Now, if you believe your child may be refusing visitation for more serious reasons such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, then you need to take immediate legal action to protect the welfare of your child. For physical or sexual abuse, contact local law enforcement to file a report so they can collect necessary evidence of the suspected abuse. You may also call the Department of Social Services to investigate. Lastly, contact a family law attorney to discuss whether or not you can legally deny the other parent visitation while the case is being examined.
Because each family is different, there is no one correct way to handle such a sensitive and complicated situation. While parents do the best they can to help their child on their own, sometimes they don’t realize that they're hurting them more than they are helping.
If you are not sending your child on visitation because you are afraid for their well-being and are being charged with custodial interference, contact our experienced family law attorneys at The Roberts Family Law Firm, P.A. in Orlando. We can assist you in presenting your allegations to the Court and help you fight to receive full custody. To schedule an initial consultation, please call 407-426-6999.
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