Visitation is often a source of conflict between coparents, and there are some times when a parent should refuse visitation. However, parents must be careful not to refuse visitation for insignificant or trivial reasons, such as:
Bad Feelings Toward a Parent's New Mate
Let's say that your ex has remarried and your child does not care for the new mate. This reason alone is not cause to refuse visitation. Instead, consider the following suggestions:
- Speaking with the child, explaining that new people in the child's life are more people to love him/her and will not take away from the parent's relationship with the child
- Communicating with the parent about expectations and responsibilities towards the child while the child is in the parent's home
- Give the child time; He/she may come around eventually
Lack of a Bedroom for a Child
The fact that the other parent doesn't have a separate bedroom for the child is a frequent reason why parents choose to refuse visitation. However, lack of a separate bedroom is a not an appropriate reason to refuse visitation. When evaluating appropriate living accommodations for a parent who has custodial or visitation rights, a court will consider the following factors:
- Safety of the living accommodations
- Whether the parent has appropriate sleeping quarters for the child (i.e. a bed)
- Whether the current accommodations can accommodate multiple children
Parent is not Paying Child Support
A parent who is not receiving child support should not refuse visitation to another parent, as the court will determine that visitation with a child should not be dependent on payment of funds. In that same respect, a parent cannot refuse to pay child support just because he/she is not receiving adequate visitation rights. Instead of withholding visitation or child support, a parent should do one of the following:
- Discuss his/her options with a legal representative
- Start a new child support proceeding in court in hopes of compelling the non-paying parent to pay child support
- Communicate with the non-paying parent about the child's financial needs in hopes of reaching agreeable terms
A Child Refuses the Visit
This is a difficult one because a child may refuse visitation with a parent for a legitimate reason. However, a child may also need some adjustment time, getting use to two parents in two different households. A child may miss his/her friends, for example. There are a number of reasons that do not involve wrong doing which may cause a child to refuse visitation. A parent should not act on a child's initial impulse, but instead the parents should communicate about possible causes of the child's refusal to visit. If parents present a united front, it may be fairly easy for a child to understand and appreciate the benefits of having two homes.
Often, separated parents react in an angry moment and utilize the only leverage they might have over another parent, the child. However, because a court's main concern is the best interests of the child, a court will expect parents to communicate about the needs of the child. Additionally, a court will be reluctant to interrupt an arrangement that seems to be working.
For more information about child custody and visitation, parents should refer to the child custody guidelines of their state or speak with a qualified attorney.