Steps to Take If Your Child Does Not Want Visitation With Your Spouse or Partner

If you are getting divorced from your spouse or breaking up with your partner and you have children together, it is important to have a custody agreement with a parenting plan. Even if you have a visitation agreement, issues could crop up.

One problem you may need to deal with is your child not wanting to have visitation with your spouse or partner. It is essential to understand your rights and options in this situation.

Can a Child Refuse Visitation in Virginia?

Child Reluctant to Walk With ParentLegally, children cannot refuse visitation with a parent until they turn 18 years old. While you are not required to physically force your child in your car to go to a visitation session, you are responsible for facilitating parenting time with your spouse or partner if at all possible.

What You Should Do If Your Child Refuses Visitation

You have options if your child is refusing visitation with their other parent. Here are some steps to take to solve this problem:

  • Talk to your child. You should talk to your child about why they do not want to visit with their other parent. You need to be sympathetic and reassure them that you understand their concerns.
  • Notify the parent. You need to let your partner or spouse know that your child does not want to participate in visitation. They should talk to your child, if possible, and try to help in solving the problem. If your child continues to refuse visitation, you should keep a record of this and notify the other parent in writing of this issue.
  • File a motion. If your child custody order is not working, you may be able to file a motion with the court asking for a modification of the visitation order if you can show a substantial change of circumstances. The judge would consider your child's best interests, such as parental fitness and the relationship your child has with both parents, in deciding whether to modify the parenting plan.

Will the Court Consider Your Child's Preferences?

There is no set age in Virginia where a child has a right to have their opinion on visitation considered. If your child is 12 years old or older, it is more likely that they would be regarded as old enough to have the intelligence and understanding to have an opinion on how much time they spend with the non-custodial parent. The judge would look at your child's level of maturity and intelligence in deciding whether to consider their opinion if they are under 12 years old.

The judge would most likely interview your child in chambers. They may not want to force your child to testify in court. Even if they consider your child's preferences, this is only one factor they would consider when deciding whether it is in the best interests of your child to change the visitation schedule.

Do you need to modify your custody order because your child is refusing visitation? Our experienced family law attorneys can explain your rights to you and may be able to file the motion on your behalf. To learn more about your options, call our Norfolk office at 877-960-3441 or contact us online to schedule your free initial case evaluation today.


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