Divorce and custody in Texas can be a complex and emotional process, especially when teens are involved. One of the most challenging aspects of co-parenting is ensuring that each parent has appropriate time with the child. Unfortunately, sometimes, a child refuses to visit one parent, causing tension and conflict between co-parents. If you are facing this situation, knowing what steps you can take to address the issue and protect your child’s best interests is essential.
Identify and Understanding Roots Causes and Other Factors at Play
The first step is understanding why your teen may want to avoid visiting their other parent. There could be many reasons for this, including the following:
- A strained relationship with the other parent
- A desire to spend more time with friends or pursue other interests
- Fear of conflict or abuse in the other parent’s home
- Pressure or manipulation from one parent or another family member
Some grounds, such as a history of abuse or neglect, may be more prominent. However, could there be new or undiscovered developments of abuse or neglect causing the refusal? If so, addressing these concerns with the court and seeking appropriate legal action to protect the child’s safety and well-being is vital.
Resolving Conflicts Through Communication and Mediation
If the motivation for the refusal is not related to safety concerns, it’s prudent to work with the other parent to find a resolution and for parents to try to understand the child’s perspective. Sometimes, a teen may refuse to visit with a parent due to a primary disagreement or conflict that can be resolved through communication and mediation. In other cases, the refusal may be related to the child’s desire to spend more time with friends or engage in other activities and pursuits, e.g., social, academic, or athletic. Finding a balance between the child’s wants and the necessity of preserving a relationship with both parents is of utmost importance.
Remember, you are not alone, as many parents face the challenge of how to proceed when their teenage child refuses to visit with the other parent. The result of such situations is often tricky and thorny to navigate. However, understanding the legal framework ensures that both parent’s rights and the child’s best interests remain protected and at the heart of the matter.
Can a child’s preference determine custody?
In Texas, under Section 153.009 of the Texas Family Code, a child over the age of 12 has the right to express their preference regarding which parent they want to live with. However, the court is not bound by this preference and will still decide based on what is in the child’s best interest based on several factors and components.
The court may need to get involved if communication and mediation do not resolve the issue. The court may appoint a mediator or custody evaluator to help resolve the issue and determine what is in the child’s best interest. The court may also modify the custody order to accommodate the child’s wishes or make other changes to the parenting plan to meet the child’s needs.
It’s important to note that if a child refuses to visit with a parent, the other parent cannot simply stop enforcing the custody order. Failure to comply with a court order can result in severe consequences, including fines, contempt charges, and even a loss of custody.
In addition, assess the impact a refusal to visit with a parent can have on the child. While respecting the child’s wishes and desires is a substantial concern, ensuring that the child maintains a relationship with both parents is also critical. Finding a balance between these aspects can be challenging but crucial to the child’s emotional well-being and long-term success.
Seeking A Child Custody Lawyer and Guidance For Involving The Court
Dealing with a teenager who refuses to visit with a parent can be a challenging and emotionally charged situation. However, it’s integral to understand the legal components in place and work with the other parent to find a solution that balances the child’s wishes with the need to maintain a relationship with both parents. Ultimately, the primary focus should be placing the child’s safety and emotional and mental health as the top priority while fostering a constructive and favorable relationship between the child and both parents. In cases where attempts at communication and mediation have failed, or when the child’s reluctance to meet the other parent is rooted in concerns related to safety, abuse, or neglect, seeking legal intervention becomes imperative to safeguard the child’s well-being. Contact a trusted and experienced Texas child custody law attorney for a confidential consultation.
Attorney Kevin Hunter at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC has experience with child custody, spousal support, high conflict divorce, and is fully equipped to guide you through the process.