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Can a Child Refuse Visitation in California?

Once a visitation agreement is in place with your co-parent, you hope that it runs smoothly. To this point, your children had expressed a reluctance or even complained when it was time to visit their other parent, but now they refuse to go.

If you have questions about what to do when your children refuse to visit their other parent, read on to learn more about if and when a child can refuse visitation in California.

Child Custody Agreements are Legally Binding

Once approved by the court, child custody agreements are legally binding contracts. When lawfully binding contracts are breached by either party, there are consequences, including court sanctions. It does not matter if the breach was because a child refused to cooperate with visitation.

Until a child reaches eighteen, is emancipated, or the custody agreement is modified and approved by the court, it must be followed. It is up to the custodial parent to make honest attempts to follow the visitation schedule.

Does the Age of the Child Matter?

When a young child or toddler refuses visitation, the custodial parent should carry through with the visitation arrangement. Teenagers are more complicated but still expected to follow their court-ordered visitation schedule.

What to Do if Your Child is Refusing Visitation

If your child is refusing to visit their other parent, there are steps to take if it becomes necessary to testify in court. First, speak with your child to find out if there is an issue at the other house that needs to be addressed.

If there is still a problem, document each refusal and note the following:

  • Date;
  • Time;
  • Child’s reason for refusing visitation;
  • Any efforts on your behalf to resolve the matter; and
  • Any communication you have with the other parent about your child’s refusal.

At What Age Does the Court Consider a Child’s Preference?

In California, the courts consider and give weight to a child’s preference when the child is “of sufficient age and ability to voice an intelligent opinion on custody or visitation.” At the age of fourteen, a child can state a custodial preference unless the court believes doing so would be detrimental.

Although a child may voice their opinion, the court does not have to abide by the child’s preference.

Do Children Have to Testify in Court?

It is up to the judge whether a child testifies in court. Older and more mature children may be allowed to do so; however, no child is ever forced to testify in court who does not want to.

Contact an Experienced California Child Custody Attorney

If your child is refusing visitation and you would like to explore your legal options, contact the San Francisco child custody attorneys at Moradi Saslaw. We will listen to your child custody problems and work towards a solution that meets your needs and expectations.

At Moradi Saslaw, we know how important your children are to you. That is why we are compassionate yet aggressive when handling child custody issues. Contact our offices today to schedule your confidential consultation.