Divorced parents often struggle to enforce their visitation rights. When children get to a certain age, they might get tired of the back-and-forth of shared custody and being sandwiched between different households.

When the time comes for the child to exercise their independence more, they might actually refuse to see the other parent. This can be for minor reasons, such as the changing schedules and a different bedroom, or a more serious issue regarding treatment by the other parent.

In this blog, we’ll be discussing some of the basics surrounding what happens when a child refuses visitation orders and what a parent can do about it.

Child Custody and Contempt of Court

Child custody agreements are formal contracts that must be carried out by custodial and noncustodial parents alike until the contract is modified or the child reaches eighteen years old. Regardless of the reason a child wants to opt-out of their current custody arrangement, this could still trigger a breach of the order – thus triggering contempt of court.

Whatever parent that is not getting their dictated visitation time can file a motion or application for an Order to Show Cause. It’s up to the judge and court to enforce the custody order through civil or criminal contempt of court.

Parents may also face civil liability for interference with visitation. This occurs when a parent intentionally interferes with the ex-spouse’s access to the child. Civil actions generally require proof of intentional interference on the part of the parent. However, courts have recognized that certain circumstances can give rise to parental liability even without evidence of intent. These include situations where the parent fails to do anything to prevent the child from refusing to visit.

Can a Child Refuse Visitation in California?

Something to note is that in California, family courts do consider a child’s preference for visitation. The child’s capacity to weigh in on custody decisions is defined in the California Rules of Court as “whether the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason to form an intelligent preference as to custody or visitation.”

How to Increase a Child’s Cooperation

In the event that your child continues to not comply with court-mandated visitation, it is important to know that there are ways to help them. Listening to your child’s concerns is a great way of showing them you care and helps you understand what is making them refuse visitation.

If your child refuses to cooperate with visitation, you may want to consider seeking professional help. Mental health professionals can provide insight into why your child does not want to visit the other household. They can also offer guidance about how to deal with the situation. You may find that talking things out with a therapist helps both you and your child understand each other better.

Finally, it might be worth looking into a custody modification with the help of a Los Angeles child custody attorney. An attorney can help with a modification to existing parenting agreements so that everyone in the agreement is happy with the visitation requirements.