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What to do if your child is refusing visitation

Feb 13, 2020 | Child Custody

Children can be very upset when it comes to dividing their time between parents. In some cases, a child can refuse to spend time with one parent.

This is troubling for any parent. On the one hand, you may not want to make your child do anything he or she doesn’t want to do. On the other hand, you must comply with your custody or visitation order, or you risk serious consequences. So, what can you do?


If a child does not want to go with the other parent, sit down and talk about it. Ask why they don’t want to go. Are they afraid? Are they scared? Do they just not want to leave you? Once you understand why they may not want to go, you can examine possible solutions.

Parents should also communicate with each other when a child is resisting visitation. Give the parent with visitation notice that a child is resistant; explain what you are doing to help the situation; discuss ways you can get on the same page to make exchanges easier.

Follow the court orders

Parents must comply with court orders, which means making reasonable efforts to make your child available for visitation. Even if your child is upset about going with another parent, it is crucial that you follow your custody and visitation plan. Failure to do so could result in penalties that only make the situation worse.

That said, if you have concerns about your child’s safety or possible visitation violations, consult your attorney immediately.

Remember your role as the parent

As your child’s parent, you are in the position to do two things: be the authoritative figure and help them navigate difficult situations.

Take control, and remember you are the one in charge. Explain that visitation is not optional (barring extenuating circumstances that endanger a child), and don’t let your child run the show. Be compassionate and patient, but ultimately, you are the one responsible for fulfilling court orders.

You can also take steps to encourage your child to stop resisting visitation. Such measures might include changing your own attitude and the way you talk about the other parent. Being positive and encouraging will also be important.

Custody and visitation matters can be upsetting for parents and children alike, especially when a child is resisting visitation. However, with these tips, it can get easier over time.