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What Can a Court Do if a Child Refuses Visitation?
An important factor in a child custody case is the willingness of the custodial parent to allow the child’s relationship with the other parent to continue. Fostering that relationship can be difficult if the child refuses to abide by the visitation schedule. Can the court force the child to spend time with the noncustodial parent?
The initial question for a court in resolving such disputes is why the child is resisting visitation. If the non-custodial parent ignores the child, has a problem with alcohol or drugs or is physically or psychologically abusive, then it’s easy to understand why the child would refuse visitation and courts can modify the visitation order. Courts can also readily rule on cases where the child refuses visitation due to the custodial parent’s conduct, such as discouraging visits, badmouthing the other parent, telling the child they don’t have to visit or doing other things to interfere with the child’s relationship with the other parent.
The harder situations for courts are the ones where children refuse visitation for a reason that is vague or difficult to understand. It could be as simple as they just don’t have as much fun at the other parent’s house or they don’t like the car ride to the other house. The non-custodial parent is doing everything right and wants the child to come over, but the child just doesn’t want to.
A judge in a recent Monroe County, NY case has taken a novel approach to these cases. It involves the court and the parents establishing a set of “house rules,” which are measures to imposed if the child refuses to follow the visitation schedule. These might include:
The idea behind house rules is that the court inserts itself as authority figure as far as the child is concerned. Yes, the parents discipline the child, but the child knows it’s happening because the court requires the parents to do it. The court’s hope is that children will comply and not blame their parents.
As a New York family lawyer, I know how tough it can be on parents when a child refuses visitation. I’m here to offer advice and creative solutions to help you move forward. Please call my Syracuse firm, Bombardo Law Office, P.C. at 315-800-4002 or contact me online to schedule a consultation.
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530 Oak St. Suite 102
Syracuse, New York 13203
Bombardo Law Office, P.C. is located in Syracuse, NY and serves clients in and around Syracuse, Liverpool, Camillus, Warners, Nedrow, Cicero, Clay, Marcellus, East Syracuse, Elbridge and Jamesville.
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