What happens if a child refuses to visit their non-custodial parent?

Visitation arrangements ensure that parents who do not have custody may still play an important role in the lives of their children. Visitation rights are court-ordered, usually upon divorce or through other legal means if the couple was not married, and they should remain in place until the child is a legal adult. But what happens when a child does not want to visit their non-custodial parent?

First, note that the state of Pennsylvania recognizes the importance of parental visitation for the sake of the child’s development. In fact, the state goes so far as to include terms like “partial physical custody” in place of “visitation” in domestic relations. So, if you are a non-custodial parent whose child is refusing visitation, understand that you are not alone in your corner.

Doing what is best for your child

In the event that your child refuses to visit, consider taking a few steps to ensure there is understanding and compassion in the family:

  • If it is possible to do so with the other parent, you should work to find the root of the problem. It may be difficult to determine whether your child’s refusal is related to a simple matter of boredom or a lack of attention, or if there is something more serious happening.
  • Understand that your child may need space and that the refusal may not be personal.
  • Communication between you, your ex-spouse and your child may be key to figuring out the issue and resolving it as necessary. You may want to consider setting up a meeting.

Of course, the measures you take in how you respond—whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent—will depend on the gravity of the situation. Some situations may call for legal action, others may call for a psychiatrist. Know that you are not the first parent to experience this situation and that there are resources available to you.

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