Family Law Attorney Belleville, Illinois

Steps to Take When Your Child Refuses Visitation With The Other Parent

A young girl with braided hair and a pink headband is being carried by her mother. The girl rests her head on the mom's shoulder. The mother, with dark curly hair tied back, is wearing a white shirt and holding the child securely.

When a child refuses visitation in a court-ordered shared custody arrangement, it can be a challenging and stressful situation for divorced or separated parents. In cases of divorce or legal separation, courts issue orders determining the legal and physical child custody.

These orders often include a parenting plan that outlines a detailed visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent. The schedule may specify the days, nights, and holidays when the child will spend time with each parent.

As a parent, it's important to understand your legal obligations, the potential consequences of not complying with court orders, and effective strategies to address the problem. An experienced Illinois divorce lawyer at Courtney Clark Law P.C. can offer legal advice and assistance during this difficult time.

What are the parental obligations regarding visitation?

Parenting plans often include detailed schedules and specific instructions for arranging visitation, such as drop-off and pick-up times and locations. The plans also outline communication expectations between parents, especially when unexpected situations arise.

The primary custodial parent is responsible for making the child available for scheduled visitation and must promptly notify the other parent if the child is sick or unable to attend. Similarly, the noncustodial parent must inform the custodial parent if they can't return the child on time.

Parents should always refer to their custody order for specific details about their obligations and responsibilities regarding visitation.

What are the consequences if my child refuses visitation?

When a child refuses to participate in court-ordered visitation, the consequences for the custodial parent can be severe. The noncustodial parent may take legal action to enforce the custody order or seek a modification of the custody arrangement. This includes:

Contempt proceedings

If a parent repeatedly fails to comply with a visitation order, the other parent may initiate contempt proceedings. The court must find that the noncompliance was deliberate and willful. The custodial parent must prove that they made significant efforts to ensure visitation occurred. The parent may face fines or even jail time if found in contempt.

Custody modification requests

The noncustodial parent may file a request to modify the custody order by citing the custodial parent's failure to facilitate visitation. They must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances and that the proposed modification is in the child's best interests. The court will consider each parent's willingness to foster the child's relationship with the other parent.

Reunification therapy or counseling

In some cases, the noncustodial parent may request court-ordered therapy or counseling to repair their relationship with the child. However, these programs can be controversial, particularly if the child has alleged abuse or mistreatment by the parent.

What can I do if my child refuses visitation with the other parent?

When a child refuses visitation with the other parent, there are several strategies you can employ to address this issue, including:

  • Notify and document: Promptly inform the other parent of the child's refusal and document all efforts made to encourage the child's participation.
  • Communicate and listen: Discuss the importance of visitation with the child and listen to their concerns. Address any issues that may be causing the refusal, such as changes in the other parent's household or scheduling conflicts.
  • Take action if abuse is suspected: If abuse is suspected, document evidence and seek a temporary protective order and custody modification.
  • Involve the other parent: Engage the other parent in problem-solving, such as joint conversations with the child or family counseling.
  • Seek modification of parenting time: If necessary, request a modification of the visitation schedule through agreement or court proceedings. You must demonstrate that the change is in the child's best interests.

Find out how to protect your rights and your child's best interests

Dealing with a child's refusal to participate in court-ordered visitation can be emotionally challenging and legally complicated. While open communication and cooperation between parents can often resolve these issues, there are times when seeking the guidance of an experienced Illinois family lawyer is necessary. Your decisions during this difficult time can have long-lasting effects on your family.

If you're struggling with a child who refuses visitation or have questions about your legal rights and responsibilities, don't hesitate to contact Courtney Clark Law, P.C., and schedule a free consultation. Our experienced divorce and custody attorneys in Belleville, Illinois, are dedicated to providing personalized guidance and strong representation to help you move forward.

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