Visitation Refusal: Legal Concerns That Arise When A Child Refuses Parenting-time
Considerations for Parental Time and Child Refusal in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ
Contact us for assistance if you have questions regarding your child’s visitation refusal, need help enforcing a child custody order, or face a contempt of court charge related to your custodial agreement.
If you have a child custody order due to divorce litigation, a civil union dissolution, or because you are a grandparent or the unmarried parent of a child, your parenting time and visitation rights are legally protected and enforceable. If you refuse to comply with a visitation order with your co-parent or someone you share custody with, you risk being charged with parental alienation and being found in contempt of a court-mandated order and could face possible jail time, penalties, or a reduction in your own parenting-time.
NJ laws are set up to protect children and assure that their best interest is paramount. If your child refuses visitation, it requires your most objective perspective when listening to, acknowledging, responding, and reflecting on why they feel that way. Balancing the need to understand the situation at hand and to keep your child safe from possible emotional, psychological, or physical trauma resulting from a forced visit with an untrustworthy parental figure should not resulting in you violating the other person’s rights.
If you fear for your child’s safety or have previously been involved with high-conflict custody matters with the person you share custody with, contact an experienced Ocean and Monmouth County, NJ child custody attorney to discuss your options. An attorney can advise you on making the best decision, whether requesting emergency custody or arranging mediation to understand the issues at hand better. When your child’s safety is at stake, you may feel overwhelmed, but an experienced attorney can help you make informed decisions so you can fully exercise your rights and protect your child.
To speak with someone and arrange a free consultation related to your child custody issue, call our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102.
At What Age Can A Child Refuse Visitation in NJ?
A child custodial order requires parents to ensure their child is reasonably available for visits with the other party and is a productive tool to help children maintain and build healthy relationships with their parents. Children can go through phases where they may not want to visit their other parent or may have peer-related activities that they would instead participate in. For the rejected parent, this can be painful.
When a child reaches the age of 18, they are considered adults, and adults can decide with whom they share their time. Even if that particular parent they are expected to visit pays child support, and the child has not yet graduated from high school.
Until that child reaches the age of adulthood, each parent is obligated to inform their co-parent when the child is ill or otherwise unable to make a scheduled visit. They are also expected to encourage the visitation process with their child. Of course, there are circumstances when parenting time is impossible, but exploring other options that facilitate or support “virtual visitations” should be explored.
Other Reasons Why a Child Might Refuse to See a Parent in New Jersey
If you have concerns that your child is the victim of child abuse or child neglect, or even in danger due to others who may live with or frequent the home of the other co-parent or guardian, you should contact the police and your attorney immediately. Due to the severe nature of this type of action, it should be used if your child is in imminent danger.
If you need to report abuse, contact the Division of Child Protection & Permanency Child Abuse Hotline (State Central Registry): 1-877-NJ ABUSE or 1-877-652-2873.
However, in most circumstances where visitation is not posing a danger to the child, you need to show a judge that you are doing everything you can to make visits possible. This could mean protecting yourself in these situations by carefully documenting facts and involving your child and the other parent in cases where a child refuses visitation.
Create a Safe Place and Listen to Your Child
When a child refuses visitation, it can be painful for one parent while putting the other in an emotionally challenging position. To gain better insight as to the reasons, one of the most important things to do is provide the child with a safe and comfortable space, so they can openly and freely talk with you.
Depending on the age of the child, if the visit is during the divorce process or following the marital settlement, these feelings may be due to the impact or inconveniences in their new life schedule (i.e., preferring visits with friends, hassles of changing homes, travel time between both locations, possibly missing out on another event or activity, etc.) or an emotional one where they feel either bored, ignored, they don’t have fun, or the co-parent is too strict.
Two options a parent may consider are: having your child discuss their feelings with a child psychologist or request that a child custody evaluation be conducted to get to the root cause of their refusal. Another option, especially in more contentious situations, is for your child to have their own attorney representing their needs and best interests.
Essentially, honesty and openness with both your child and the person with whom you share your custodial agreement can help relieve some of the stress and possible misunderstandings regarding the reasons for refusing visitations.
Practice Open and Compassionate Communication With Your Co-Parent
Because your custody arrangement and parenting time agreement are based on specific court-ordered schedules detailing how your child’s time will be divided between parents, each party has expectations regarding how the shared parental duties of childrearing will be. The reality is that the co-parenting experience requires a bit of flexibility if certain unforeseen (i.e., illness, transportation problems, etc.) circumstances occur and lots of open communication to make sure all parties are on the same page.
Slight adjustments to your parenting time schedule are probably not an issue for the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part to weigh in on – unless one parent is actively withholding another parent’s rights to spend court-approved time with their child. Minor changes to recoup lost time can likely be managed through an informal agreement between the parents.
When it comes to parenting plans revised due to the COVID pandemic, the ability to compassionately or non-violently communicate for additional hours or days, especially as we move closer to the holiday season, is key.
If you have a successful co-parenting relationship, you could ask that person to call the child on the phone or via video chat or visit your house and you both try to speak with the child who is refusing visits.
A Family Court judge may express more understanding of a parent whose teenager refuses parental visitation, as compared to a five-year-old who does so. What you don’t want, in emotionally confusing situations like these, is for a judge to penalize you for your child’s defiance or your inability to discipline and control the child.
What If I Need to File A Motion for Contempt in Toms River, NJ?
We are prepared to collaborate with your spouse to reach a child custody arrangement peaceably. Still, we are also ready to aggressively defend your rights and needs in court if it becomes necessary.
If no other options exist, our family law team can assist with your case by making application to the court for contemptby your co-parent. In our complaint, we can assemble the most compelling body of evidence to suggest that your child’s other parent has not been abiding by the mandatory orders of the court with regard to parenting time and visitation.
Child Refusing Visitation in Ocean County? We can Help.
The team of attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, over the years, has acquired extensive experience providing legal services to clients in Mantoloking, Lavallette, Jackson, Lanoka Harbor, Brick, Toms River, Lacey, and nearby places in all family law-related issues.
Mr. Peter Bronzino as the lead attorney in the firm, shares his experience with each of his clients by working side by side, with fluent communication along the way to help you determine what is the best path to follow in your particular case.
To speak with Peter Bronzino and the legal team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding any parenting, visitation, or child custody issue, please get in touch with us online or through our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102 today.