Can My Child Refuse Visitation?

Posted on March 5th, 2020

Divorce can complicate a child’s feelings towards one parent or the other. This can make it difficult for you as a parent to see your child upset when it comes time to visit your ex. But can your child refuse visitation with their parent? We’re here to break it down.

The Importance of Visitation

Pennsylvania family law is often focused on keeping the nuclear family intact. But when divorce is inevitable, child custody law requires parents to act in the best interests of their children. 

The most common way to ensure the child has a stable family unit is through visitation. If the parents cannot agree, a judge will step in to determine who has custody and how much and what kind of visitation will take place. 

When the child is showing hesitation towards one parent, the court will typically take that into account when it comes to custody and visitation. But it is not a blind consideration as the court will also review the age, maturity level, and ability to reason with his or her feelings as well as if the child is being influenced by another party.

So, Can My Child Refuse Visitation?

The short answer is no, your child cannot refuse visitation in Pennsylvania. It is your responsibility as the custodial parent to ensure that minor children see their noncustodial parent.

However, when your child reaches their teen years, most judges will even recognize that it’s difficult to enforce a teenager to visit with a noncustodial parent they do not wish to see. But, again, technically the child must.

To protect your child from hard feelings from your ex and yourself from legal complaints from the noncustodial parent, be sure to have a talk with your child about the importance of visitation and what their hesitations are for visiting with the other parent.

If you are having difficulties broaching the conversation with your child, consider:

  • Asking why they do not wish to visit with their parent. If it is a safety concern, be sure to contact your attorney for the next step as a modification plan may be available to you.
  • Assuring your child that both parents love them and that visitation is an important component for keeping the child connected to both parents.
  • Talking to your ex if you feel comfortable doing so. There may be something going on that you both are not aware of and need to discuss together.

Remember, if you do not enforce visitation with the noncustodial parent, you can be held legally responsible for not following custody and visitation agreements.

If your child is adamant against visiting with their noncustodial parent, you may need legal advice. Contact the family law professional attorney Craig Kalinoski today.

Let a Scranton Family Lawyer Help You

Your child’s wellbeing is your primary concern. When they begin to fight to go to their scheduled visits with their parent, you may feel lost and like you need advice. Don’t go it alone. Schedule a free consultation today and we’ll help make sense of it all and plan your next step of action.

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Craig Kalinoski
Craig Kalinoski

Craig P. Kalinoski is a respected attorney serving clients in Scranton, Pennsylvania. With a focus on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Civil Rights, he has established himself as a top-rated legal professional. Recognized as a Rising Star and admired by peers, Craig's commitment to excellence sets him apart in the legal field.


We fight for the rights of our clients in a wide spectrum of practice areas, ranging from criminal defense to family law and personal injury.

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