When a custody order is handed down by the judge, parents have no choice but to follow it. But the children, especially teenagers, may not agree with the order. Greenville, SC judges can take into consideration what minors want. But that doesn’t always line up with what a court determines to be the child’s best interests. What do you do when your child doesn’t want to visit the other parent?
Not all resistance to seeing the other parent is the product of the child’s wishes. Unfortunately, parents often manipulate their children into not wanting to visit. This may be done in several ways:
- Telling the child how sad or upset he or she will be if the child leaves
- Telling the child about all the fun things he or she will miss when visiting the other parent
- Punishing the child for seeing the other parent; e.g. forbidding the child to do what he or she normally can
- Blaming the other parent for why the marriage or relationship fell apart
Of course, there are times where children have legitimate fears of seeing the other parent. This may be because of abuse or neglect by that parent, or a third party with whom the parent associates. In the case of genuine abuse, you must report it to the proper authority and take immediate legal action. Learn whatever information you can and contact your Greenville, SC family law attorney for the next steps.
There are risks when a child doesn’t want to visit. Not only does this raise the ire of the other parent and increase acrimony. It could result in your being accused of civil or criminal contempt. Assume your child really doesn’t want to see the other parent and there’s no abuse or neglect. You inform the other parent, the visitation doesn’t happen, and you’re now in court for contempt. The other parent’s attorney will likely cross-examine you about why you didn’t simply make your child visit.
It’s not enough to say your child “didn’t want to.” Children don’t always want to do plenty of things – their homework, their chores, etc. If you’re asked about this on the witness stand, it’s going to appear that you made an exception for visitation. It will look as though you make the child do plenty of things – except visit the other parent. You could find yourself held in contempt, even if your Greenville, SC attorney defends your actions in court.
You can lessen the likelihood of contempt if your child genuinely doesn’t wish to visit the other parent:
Document your attempts to follow the custody order. List the dates, times, and circumstances surrounding your child’s refusal to visit the other parent. Write down what you did to counter it. Also consider audio or video recording your attempt to persuade the child to visit. Discuss these options with a Greenville, SC family lawyer to ensure they are done properly.
Take your child to a therapist. You may need a neutral third party to discuss your child’s anxiety surrounding visitation. A licensed therapist in your area is a good start. Let the other parent know ahead of time and provide the therapist’s contact information. Maintain transparency with the process.
Have the therapist testify in court. In the event you are questioned, the testimony of your child’s therapist can prove invaluable. The judge can see for him- or herself why the child doesn’t want to visit.
Consider modifying the custody and visitation order. Before being accused of contempt, you can beat the other parent to the punch by requesting modification of the order. In this way, you can take affirmative steps to explain to the court why the order needs to change. Your Greenville, SC family law attorney can advise you on whether this is a good option for you.
A Law Firm You Can Count on for All of Your Custody Needs
Custody issues are some of the most emotional aspects of divorce. If there is genuine apprehension on the part of your child surrounding visitation, take action. Not doing so can land you in front of the judge on contempt allegations. At Greenville Family Law, we’re experienced in all aspects of child custody matters. Call us today for a consultation.