For parents who do not have custody, the parenting time, or visitation, with their children is extremely important. Custodial parents can chose to help with this issue, or in some cases, they can interfere with the visitation with their words or actions to the point of making the children refuse to go with the other parent. What happens when the custodial parent is proactive about the visitation, but the children do not want to go for parenting time?
The Non-Custodial Parent Still Has Rights
Children process divorce differently and can sometimes blame one parent for the family separation, even without the other parent leading them to that point. Even when parenting time has been ordered by a court, and a child has been going to visit a parent for a while, he or she can suddenly decide that he or she does not want to keep going for the court-ordered visitation.
When visitation is ordered by a Georgia court, the custodial parent cannot refuse to send the child to the other parent for visitation, even if the child does not want to go. This can be difficult because parents may not want to force a child to go when he or she is determined not to go. However, in Georgia, as long as there is a valid court order for visitation, the other parent is entitled to spend time with the child during that time.
If you talk to your child and your child tells you that he or she does not want to go visit the other parent because the other parent does not feed the child, bathe them when necessary, or because the other parent is abusing the child, then you may have to take legal action to stop the visitation. However, this usually is not the case.
If you are the custodial parent, you need to be careful when trying to figure out why your child no longer wants to visit your ex. Depending on the age of your child, you might end up suggesting answers that your child simply agrees with. Alternatively, your child may misunderstand a situation and then report a different version of it when you are asking questions. You really need to tread lightly and ensure that you are not making excuses for your child, but rather helping your child understand that he or she deserves to spend time with the other parent.
Modifying Visitation Orders
If you think you have valid reasons to change your custody and visitation order to honor your child’s wishes not to continue with visitation, you can file for a modification of the order. The child’s best interest will always be the standard for any modification that affects the children, therefore, a continued relationship with the parent must be shown to not be in the child’s best interest in order for visitation to be stopped.
A child who is 11 years old or older can express their preference for visitation before the court. In some cases, younger children may also give their opinion if the judge decides they are mature enough to do so. If the judge determines that the child’s preference to not continue visitation with a parent is in the child’s best interest, the judge can end visitation. While the judge does not have to follow the child’s preference in the matter, the judge has to consider it in making a decision.
Contact Us for Legal Assistance
To get a better understanding of whether you can get a modification of your visitation order, contact an experienced Georgia family law attorney at Vayman & Teitelbaum, P.C.