What to Do if Your Child Refuses Visitation

By Lois G. Schwartz | January 26, 2022

What to Do if Your Child Refuses Visitation

Although many conflicts over visitation time are started by parents, in some cases it is the child or children who are the subject of a custody order that start conflicts by refusing to have visitation with one of their parents. If your child has refused to see you during your visitation time, you should familiarize yourself with your rights and options. 

What is Visitation?

Visitation, sometimes called parenting time in New Jersey, refers to the time that a parent gets to spend with their children when they are separated or divorced from their child’s or children’s other parent. Parents may choose to develop a visitation schedule on their own, or they may turn to the court to issue a custody order. The custody order will determine which parent has physical and/or legal custody, and will also set a schedule for when each parent can exercise visitation and any conditions on the parent’s visitation time. When a custody order is issued by the court, parents must follow the order and may not modify it without the court’s approval. 

What Are a Parent’s Obligations in Visitation?

Under a custody and visitation order, each parent must make their child or children reasonably available to visit with their other parent at the times established under the visitation schedule. This may include taking the child to a pre-arranged drop-off point or to their other parent’s home. Parents generally have an obligation to act reasonably in ensuring that children are ready for visiting with their other parent. What may be reasonable can vary with a child’s age.

Can Parents Be Held Responsible When Children Refuse to See Their Other Parent?

A parent who refuses to allow their child’s or children’s other parent to exercise visitation can be held in contempt of court for violating the court’s custody order. The parent being denied visitation may file a motion or an order to show cause with the court. However, a parent may also seek court intervention when it is the child or children who are refusing to see their other parent for visitation. In that case, the other parent will need to prove to the court that they are undertaking reasonable efforts to comply with the custody order but that it is the child who is refusing to cooperate. 

Courts may be less likely to hold parents in contempt when teenage children refuse to see their other parent for visitation, as children are normally afforded more independence and personal responsibility as they grow up. But courts may still hold parents in contempt when the judge finds that it is the parent that is the source of the child’s refusal to see their other parent. 

What Are Your Legal Options If Your Child Refuses Visitation Time with You

If you have a child who is refusing visitation with you, your first step should be to try to work it out with your child’s other parent. If you have a no-contact order with them, your attorney can handle communications on your behalf. It may be helpful for your child’s other parent to speak with your child over the phone or to come over to your house to speak with them in person. However, if you suspect that your child is refusing visitation due to abuse from their other parent, then you should immediately contact your attorney or the court. 

Contact a Cherry Hill Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Child Custody in New Jersey Today

If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or division of assets, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. New Jersey family law attorney, Lois Garber Schwartz, Esq. represents clients throughout the state, including Cherry Hill, Collingswood, Mt. Laurel, and Medford. She understands how challenging this time can be for you, which is why she will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call her at (856) 482-8799 or fill out the confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. She has an office conveniently located at 1040 Kings Hwy. N., Suite 202, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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    Lois Garber Schwartz

    1040 Kings Highway N., Suite 202

    Cherry Hill, NJ 08034


    Phone: 856-375-8989

    Fax: 856-482-0343