How to Handle a Child Who Refuses to Participate in the Summertime Visitation Arrangement

Unhappy teenage girlThis is the third post in my series on summertime custody issues that Las Vegas parents frequently encounter. My last post discussed how to navigate and prepare for issues that arise when one parent lives in another state, and is awarded extended summertime visitation. In this post I will be discussing an issue that can be both emotionally hurtful and frustrating- handling a child who refuses to travel for their visitation.

Parents must strike a balance between being sensitive to their child’s feelings and encouraging a relationship with the noncustodial parent

For a parent who has not seen their child for an extended period of time, learning your child does not want to come visit can be devastating. The noncustodial parent may be quick to blame the other parent for their child’s lack of enthusiasm. Before engaging in an argument between parents, it is important to consider your child’s age and reasoning behind their refusal. If the noncustodial parent and child have a strong relationship, both parents can talk to their child and attempt to ease any fears or concerns. If the child is extremely young, the issue may be as simple as feeling uncomfortable traveling to an unfamiliar town or not having familiar belongings. Providing the child with as much information about the trip as possible, and highlighting the fun plans that the other parent has in store, can help ease the transition. Teenagers may be concerned with missing scheduled events or part-time jobs. Prior to making travel plans, it may be appropriate to discuss dates with your child and determine which period of time works for everyone. If your child’s refusal to participate in visitation is largely superficial, it is important for parents to keep in mind that they are in charge and do not need to waffle to their child’s every demand. Taking a united front and making it clear that visitation is not optional will often take care of the problem.

The courts may change custody arrangements for older children with contentious relationships with their noncustodial parent

The majority of children who refuse to participate in visitation trips are often cases of kids being kids, and the problem resolves itself. However, in some cases the child truly does not want to visit with the noncustodial parent due to a weak or damaged relationship. The court will consider revoking visitation at the child’s request in the cases of older children who are able to make a well-thought out decision. The court makes decisions based on the child’s best interest, and if a teenage child truly does not want to spend time with their parent for a legitimate reason, the court will question whether visitation is a benefit to the child. Custodial parents may also request a change in the visitation schedule on behalf of younger children if a factor has changed since the original order was put in place that will affect the child’s visit. For example, if the noncustodial parent has moved to a dangerous area, is abusing substances, or cannot provide adequate supervision during the child’s visit, a custodial parent may go to court prior to the visitation and request a change.

Summertime visitation is often set up well in advance, so if your child is expressing concerns it is important to address the issues right away. You may be held in contempt of court if you do not enforce your custody order, so it is important to contact your attorney if you wish to deviate from the agreement. If you need to request an emergency custody change prior to your child’s visitation, or your child’s parent is in violation of your custody agreement, contact our office today.


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