Spending quality time with your child can be difficult after a divorce, and it only gets harder as they grow up and assert their independence. This is especially true when your ex-spouse is your child’s custodial parent. You have parental rights to visitation, but can your child legally refuse to respect them?
At The Mandel Law Firm, our New York-based family law attorneys are here to answer all of your questions about parenting time and offer legal counsel if you’re attempting to enforce your visitation rights. We have the experience to help you navigate these sensitive manners and can advocate for your interests while also respecting your child’s concerns. Contact us today for a consultation.
How Old Does A Child Have To Be To Refuse Visitation?
Legally speaking, your child has the right to refuse visitation when they turn 18 and become an adult who has the freedom to choose who they spend time with. Even if your child is still residing with their other parent and has not yet graduated from high school, this will be the case. You could still be paying child support, as in New York State, child support payments continue until the child is 21 – but once your child turns 18, you cannot legally compel them to spend time with you if they refuse.
Visitation May Be Challenging to Enforce The Older Your Child Gets
As your child approaches their majority (i.e., their 18th birthday), it can become increasingly challenging to compel them to spend time with you. While you are in your legal rights to insist that your child adheres to the agreed-upon visitation schedule, the custodial parent can respond by requesting the court reconsider this agreement. And the older your child is, the more likely the court will defer to their wishes concerning visitation time.
Before you attempt to enforce your visitation rights through the courts, consider discussing the issue with your child and/or their custodial parent, if at all possible. Your child’s reasons for avoiding you might not be as complicated or malicious as you assume. Perhaps your parenting time is getting in the way of extracurricular activities your child wants to participate in. Maybe they have begun to date someone at school. By discussing your child’s needs and wants, you may be able to develop an alternative parenting plan that is more conducive to your child’s schedule.
Enforcing Visitation Rights
If you decide that it is in your child’s best interests to adhere to the terms of the existing visitation order, you will need to turn to the courts for enforcement. Document instances when the child or their custodial parent refused to the agreed-upon visitation schedule. But remember: turning to the courts is best understood as an avenue of last resort.
If it is at all possible, consult with an experienced family lawyer before you take any further steps. They can give you specific advice about your unique case, and help you file a motion with the court that details how you were denied parenting time. They may also help you craft a revised visitation schedule that is acceptable to all involved parties.
Contact a New York Family Law Attorney
Disputes over parenting time can be difficult, particularly if your child is refusing to spend time with you. If you have questions about your legal rights or are attempting to enforce the terms of your visitation arrangement, contact a New York child custody lawyer at The Mandel Law Firm today for a confidential consultation.