If the visitation is court-ordered, the simple answer is yes, you must make your child go to visitation. It does not matter if the visitation is set out in an order or in a settlement agreement that has been incorporated into a decree of divorce, the parties are obligated to comply with the terms of visitation.
At some point, parents of children in divided families will have to contend with a child who does not want to visit the other parent. Often, the child is simply resisting a change in routine. Transition can be tough for children, so it is not uncommon for children to resist transitioning to their second home. Parents often interpret this resistance as a sign that the children are not bonded to the other parent, or worse, that the children do not want a relationship with the other parent.
A more difficult situation arises when a child expresses fear of the other parent or something at the other parent’s home. Of course, if you believe that a child is truly in danger, no judge would expect you to put the child in harm’s way. You must, however, bring the concern to the attention of the court so that precautions can be taken and, if necessary, changes made to the visitation schedule.
No matter the age of the child, judges generally do not give the child control over whether or not they attend visitation with a parent. While the judge may weigh the wishes of the child in setting the visitation schedule, it is unlikely that the judge will allow the child any ongoing authority over the visitation. Many child psychologists believe that allowing a child to exercise this kind of control places them in the middle of the conflict between the parents – something that courts try to avoid at all costs.
If your child is resisting visitation, it is best to address the problem before it gets out of hand. First, determine if there is any real danger to the child and, if there is, contact the appropriate authority. Second, contact an experienced family law attorney to learn about how to change your visitation schedule.
If you and your former spouse are having trouble developing a parenting plan, the experienced team at Andersen, Tate and Carr can help.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Trinity Hundredmark heads our Domestic Relations Division. She is an experienced attorney with more than a decade of experience representing clients. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-467-3205.