Addressing the Challenges of Coparenting
When coparents establish a child custody plan and have it approved by the court, it becomes a legal agreement. As such, failure to comply with it is considered a breach of a legal contract, which could lead to serious consequences. Even if the violation of the agreement is due to a child’s refusal, it is the custodial parent who is susceptible to harsh legal penalties.
Custody arrangements must be followed by both parents until the child is emancipated at 18 or the schedule is otherwise modified. The custodial parent must make honest attempts to have the child follow the visitation schedule until then.
Your Child’s Age Matters
A child’s refusal to abide by visitation agreements is addressed in different ways depending on their age. The court will likely be unconvinced if a young toddler refuses visitation, as parents should be able to make them follow the schedule. However, having such a control on teenagers is understandably more difficult, so the court could be more understanding of the efforts a custodial parent exercised to try to make the visit happen.
Overall, children 14 and older are cut some more slack. Their opinions are considered when the visitation orders are initially made, and they will be respected to a greater extent than the wishes of younger children. Still, once an agreement is in place, the child is expected to follow it.
What to Do When Your Child Is Avoiding Visits
When your child is refusing to visit their other parent, you should first have an open conversation where you can understand their reasoning. Having a discussion, rather than just ordering them to go, can help you understand if there is a deeper issue that must be addressed.
Next, you should take action to document the refusal. As you were the one who signed the custody agreement, it is ultimately your duty to ensure that the visitation schedule is followed. As such, you should write down the details of scenarios where your child refuses visitation in case you have to testify in court for the breach, noting specifics like:
- The date
- The time
- The child’s reasoning for refusal
- Your efforts to resolve the matter
- Any communication you had with your coparent about your child’s refusal