Can My Child Refuse Visitation?
Child custody and visitation are difficult issues to navigate even in the best of circumstances. These decisions are emotionally charged and can be difficult to adapt to for all parties involved. Your child is not immune to the challenges that you face when going through a custody trial, and is likely to feel the tension and react in their own ways. Sometimes this can look like behavioral issues, and other times your child may have very valid reasons for refusing to participate in court-ordered visitation. However, it’s important to understand that visitation is a right given by the court to the parent. Visitation is not a right of the child, so the child does not have the right to refuse it. There is no age at which the child can legally refuse visitation until they are no longer a minor. However, if your child has valid reasons for wanting to avoid visitation, such as if visitation is not in the child’s best interest, it may be possible to have the court-ordered visitation agreement modified. We’ll consider that option more below.
When Your Child’s Opinion Matters in the Child Custody Process
Child custody and visitation agreements exist because Alabama law believes that having a relationship with both parents is in the best interest of the child. In determining which parent gets physical custody of the child, the court will consider what is in the child’s best interest. Despite what you may have seen in movies, it does not fall on the child’s shoulders to decide who they want to live with. In fact, the law has been carefully structured in order to avoid putting that burden on the child. For this reason, the court must consider many factors when it comes to determining custody and visitation issues. The balance of these factors is meant to determine what is in the best interest of the child. One of the factors that the court may consider is the child’s opinion. However, the court does not have to consider this factor. Additionally, in order to consider the child’s opinion on the matter of custody, the court must determine that the child is of suitable maturity and intelligence to make such a decision.
Modifying Visitation for the Child’s Best Interest
Although it may seem like you are being handed visitation terms that are carved in stone, it is actually possible to modify visitation agreements. You and your co-parent always have the option of mutually agreeing to a new visitation agreement. You can then submit this to the court, and provided the court agrees that the new arrangement is in the best interest of the child it will approve it. In the event that you are not in agreement, but the current visitation terms are not in the child’s best interest, you can request a modification from the court. This may be the best course of action if the noncustodial parent is not showing up for visitation, or has a substance abuse issue and is abusing drugs during visitation.
Contact Peeples Law in Birmingham, Alabama
If a modification of your existing custody agreement would be in your child’s best interest, contact the experienced Birmingham family law attorneys at Peeples Law are ready to help. Contact Peeples Law today to schedule a consultation.