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What to Do When a Teenager Refuses to Continue With Visitation

Teenager refuses visitation

In Colorado, a family court judge can order a parenting plan in a divorce, separation, or for unmarried parents. Among other components, the plan provides for the sharing of parenting time. In layman’s terms, visitation is the time spent with each parent 

A parenting plan remains in force until the child reaches age 18. As the child advances into teen years, he or she may start to think of visitation as burdensome and/or interruptive of social life or of extracurricular activities. A problem arises when the child resists or refuses to adhere to the plan’s visitation schedule.

Parents faced with this problem must understand that a refusal to visit has legal implications. Each parent has an obligation to comply with the plan. The parent with whom the child primarily resides is required to encourage the child to make the required visits. Otherwise, the other parent can take legal action.

Before the situation escalates to a court battle, the parents should communicate with the teenager — talking to them in a calm, non-judgmental way and listening to their reasons for not wanting to visit. Are they feeling uncomfortable, anxious or bored during visits? Is there conflict with members of the other parent’s household? Or is the child simply reluctant to have their daily or weekly routine upset?

Sometimes, simple adjustments can be the solution. The visitation schedule might be modified to accommodate the teen’s extracurricular activities or social life. Visits could be shorter or more focused on activities the teen enjoys. Discussing these options with the other parent can lead to agreement on modification of the plan.

Whether or not the parents and child come to an agreement, a plan modification requires filing a petition with the court. In the case of a teenager’s refusal to visit, the court must decide whether the reasons are compelling enough to be grounds for modification. A refusal based on mere inconvenience or dislike for the other parent won’t typically lead to a modification. 

The age of the teenager is also a major factor in the court’s determination. As children mature, their voices carry more weight. A 12-year-old’s resistance might be attributed to pre-teen mood swings, while a 17-year-old’s clearly stated objections are more likely to be seen as valid.

If you are faced with your teenaged son or daughter refusing to continue with a visitation schedule, an attorney experienced in post-decree modifications of family court orders can advise you on your options and can guide you through the court process.

Whether you wish to petition for a modification or are opposing one, you can schedule a free consultation at the Law Offices of Bonnie E. Saltzman, LLC in the south Denver area by calling 720-388-1565 or contacting us online.