What Should I Do if My Child Refuses to Visit Their Parent?
Refusal by a child to abide by a designated time sharing schedule is not uncommon. Some children become very attached to one parent and go through phases, others grow older and wish to spend time with their friends rather than their parents. However, giving in to these refusals without proper legal action can cause significant legal ramifications. If your child is refusing to visit with their mother or father contact your Orlando Child Custody Attorney today to discuss some options regarding the parenting plan in your case.
In Florida, it is public policy, after the separation or a divorce of a family unit, that the minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents. Therefore, in your initial divorce or child custody proceedings, you and your partner, along with the aid of your attorneys, formulated a parenting plan that designated the day to day care of the child as well as the time sharing schedule that best provides for the child’s needs. However, there are times when this plan may need to be modified to address concerns from you or your child. In order to modify an existing parenting plan, the court requires there to be a significant change in circumstances. These sets of circumstances can be simple items such as relocation, or more serious matters such as abuse or neglect. However, if your child is simply refusing to spend time with a parent, the court will not see this as a significant change in circumstances warranting a modification of the parenting plan. Therefore, do not withhold visitation, simply upon your child’s request. Although this may be difficult, if you refuse to comply with the court ordered visitation plan, you could face serious legal consequences. Rather, it is important to have an open discussion with your child prior to taking any action.
If your child is refusing to visit with their parent, it is important to discuss with them why they feel this way. Many children can become uncomfortable visiting with a parent if they have brought home a new romantic partner. Some children feel unwelcome, in their parent’s home if their parent has begun a “new family.” Further, some children just feel uncomfortable outside of their childhood home and steps may need to be implemented to ensure they recognize the new environment as a safe space for them. These are emotional roadblocks that can be addressed together or with a professional counselor. Emotional roadblocks, unfortunately do not rise to the significant change in circumstances that would warrant a modification of a parenting plan. It is crucial to get to the root of the issue with your child in order to resolve this relationship. If your child has some emotional draw backs with spending time with their parent, instead of revoking the visitation, it may be prudent to seek out professional help or counseling for the child individually or as a family to create an open space to discuss these emotional roadblocks. Florida courts recognize the numerous benefits to maintaining a healthy relationship with both parents and therefore, will not intervene to remove time sharing if there have been no significant changes in circumstances.
However, if your child is in fear of their parent or they do not feel safe in their home, it would be necessary to seek court intervention to modify the existing parenting plan. Some children report, refusal to visit with a parent due to a parent’s alcohol or drug use, arguments that occur within the home or abuse that has occurred. In these cases, it would be important to discuss the details of your child’s concerns with your Orlando Child Custody Attorney. They will begin the necessary paperwork to modify or revoke the visitation schedule and protect your child. However, it is important that there be evidence to substantiate such claims. The court is reluctant to remove time sharing if there is no evidence to warrant a modification. Your Orlando Child Custody Attorney will be able to aid you in the gathering of such evidence prior to a hearing and will be able to walk you through this unfortunate process.
If your child is refusing to visit with their parent, do not immediately withhold visitation. Discuss the feelings of refusal with your child and gather information regarding their emotions or fear. If they reveal instances or emotions that bring out concern to you, contact your Orlando Child Custody Attorney immediately to fight to protect your child.
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