After being awarded joint custody, you received the court order detailing your child visitation schedule. You were excited to plan how the first visit would go but was in shock to hear the news that your kid doesn’t want to see you. Are children allowed to refuse parenting time? What does the law have to say about the refusal of your visitation rights?
Determining whether or not child visitations may be taken away from you is not a straightforward issue. This article will give you three factors to consider when dealing with children’s visit refusals.
A Child’s Right to Refuse Visitation
The answer to your question greatly depends on state legislation. For instance, in Arizona, children’s preferences are strongly considered by the family court before awarding parenting time to a mother or father in a joint legal custody case.
Since a child is given a voice in the issue, under Arizona laws, a child may not refuse parent visits in a joint physical custody arrangement, unless it is proven that he or she has reached a suitable age of maturity (normally set at 18 years old and above), or otherwise ordered by the court.
A Legally Binding Agreement
You are now aware that your kid cannot refuse to meet you if he is below 18. However, this doesn’t mean you can demand to see your child anytime you want. In joint custody, both the custodial parent and non custodial parent enter into a legally binding contract regarding parenting time and custody visitation.
Mothers and fathers must adhere to the agreed-upon terms in the child custody agreement, otherwise, the court will revoke their privileges of spending time with their son or daughter.
Examples of violations in the agreement are missing or skipping a scheduled visit, failing to return the kid to the co-parent on time, or putting the child in danger.
The legal way to go about refusals is to take the matter to court for appropriate action. You may petition the family judge to enforce the terms of the contract through a mandatory visitation arrangement.
A Change in the Custody Arrangement
Sometimes, when a child turns down a visit from the mother or father, the other parent may have a reason to believe that the refusal is justified, as in the case of suspected child abuse or domestic violence. In this case, the other parent may file a lawsuit to alter the terms in the parenting agreement to remove your visitation rights. When this happens, you will need to convince the judge that continued visitation will work for your child’s interest.
Before custody modification is enacted, any of the following conditions must first be met:
- Both parents agree on the new terms
- The child has reached a suitable age and a certain maturity level to express his or her preferences
- There was a change in the child’s circumstance
- The custodian has voluntarily given up parenting rights voluntarily
Young people under joint custody may have various reasons for declining visits. While child custody laws dictate that only those above 18 have the legal right to refuse spending time with parents, the court places more weight on the child’s preferences and best interest.
Are you facing challenges involving child visitation matters? There are legal remedies available.
One legal action you can take is to work with a family law attorney and gather convincing evidence to counter the other party’s petition for the elimination of required visitation. You may also look for a family member who can attest against the wrongful accusations of your former spouse.
Children of divorced parents may be going through a difficult transition that influences why they are saying no to visits. This is why you should also examine the main reason for declining. Parental alienation may be an underlying cause. Another may be the child’s level of maturity.
In custody modifications, the court will send a special interviewer to talk with the child and understand why one parent is being favored over the other. This is done so that the child will not have to testify in a court hearing or child custody mediation because the investigator’s report can be presented instead.
Parents who are unable to see their children due to voluntary refusal may take action by determining the child’s main reason for declining, following the custody agreement to avoid penalties, and seeking legal help from a child custody attorney who can bring the matter to court for proper resolution. The judge will ultimately decide from issuing an order requiring the enforcement of parental visitations, modifying the agreement, to eliminating it altogether. In the end, the decision will be based on the best interest of the child.
Custody cases can be emotionally draining for parents and children alike. It is more prudent to get professional help when dealing with matters involving custody and visitation. Make sure to find the right child custody lawyer in Arizona to work on your case. Our experienced attorneys who are well versed in family law are available to provide advice on legal custody, parental rights, parental visitations, and child custody disputes. Call us at Zolman Law for free legal consultation and to get to know all your legal rights and the options available to you.