My child refuses to visit his parent in violation of the court order. What do I do?

Failing to comply with a court ordered custody agreement can become a serious issue. If one parent alters the required visitation, or refuses to comply, the other parent will likely be recommended to take legal action immediately. But what if it’s the child that is refusing visitation, not either parent?

It’s not uncommon for children of divorce, especially teenagers or those approaching legal age, to refuse to visit a parent. Whether the reason be related to psychological trauma caused by the divorce, or simply an inconvenience for the child, any refusal to adhere to the court order needs to be taken seriously by both parents. If not, the parent violating the order could be facing charges.

In shared custody or visitation agreements, it is the role of each parent to make the child or children available for visitation with the other parent. If one parent sees in any way that the other parent is failing to do so, they’re well within their rights to issue an Order to Show Cause to the court. This order alerts the court that one party is violating the custody order and requires that they report back as to why.

In the case that an Order to Show Cause is issued, the parent needs to be prepared with evidence showing that they have made efforts to make the child available for visitation, but that it’s the child that is refusing. Taking the following measures may help ease the child into the new arrangement as well as assist in arguing your case:

  • Document all instances of child’s refusal to visit
    Make notes on every refusal occurrence, and notify both the other parent and your attorney as proof of the child’s defiance.
  • Request the other parent’s help in getting through to the child
    Ask the other parent to speak with the child as well to try and understand better what their reluctance to visit may be. They may be able to better negotiate with the child to keep the visitation schedule running smoothly.
  • Hire a Child Therapist/Psychologist
    If the parents aren’t making progress, a trained professional may be able to uncover the root of the problem that’s causing the child to refuse visits. It may also help the child realize the seriousness of the matter and the implications their refusal may have on their parents.

Enlisting these tactics may help a judge to determine the lengths a parent went to comply with the custody order, and could help to decrease the possibility of charges against them.

Though there are no formal guidelines on how to handle a child’s refusal for visitation, the best a parent can do is to offer their best attempt at complying with the custody order. Custody agreements are always made with the child’s best interest in mind, however, if there is any suspicion of abuse or other negative concerns associated with visitation, the parent should contact their attorney immediately.

If you’re having trouble getting your child on board with a new visitation schedule or custody agreement, contact us to discuss your options. To set up a consultation contact our office at (702) 998-1188, or email

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Disclaimer: The information shared on this site is for general information purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding the specific facts and circumstances of your individual situation. Reviewing the information on this site and/or contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information about your case to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.