Legally, At What Age Can A Child Refuse To See A Parent?

at what age can a child refuse to see a parent

At what age can a child refuse to see a parent? Do you find yourself looking for an answer to this question? If yes, read on.

Let’s say that you tried your best to opt for a healthy divorce. You even opted for peaceful negotiation right from the stage of the separation agreements. But now, unfortunately, the circumstances are getting tough with your child.

Sometimes a divorce may not go the way we want it to. Say you lost custody. After all there is no hard and fast answer to how to win a custody battle. But even after you lose, your child refuses to see you on the scheduled days.

Can you stop that from happening? Officially, at what age can a child refuse to see a parent?

In this article, we will give you an answer to your question. Additionally, we will also give you a state-wise explanation.

The Basics Of Visitation Rights

After a divorce, you need a court agreement about where your kids will live. Parents can agree on a plan, but if they can’t, a judge decides based on the kids’ best interests.

The agreement shows which parent the kids live with most (the primary parent). If both share time, it includes when they’ll be with the other parent.

To change this plan, you ask a judge. Not following it, even if your child disagrees, can cause problems.

What Are Visitation Rules?

In the past, orders just said the other parent gets “reasonable” visits. Now, plans are more detailed. They explain drop-off times, communication, and what happens if a visit can’t happen.

If your child can’t go, the main parent tells the other. And when they’re late returning, the other parent tells them why.

If you’re not sure about the plan, check your court order for details.

When Can A Child Refuse To See A Parent?

Before we answer “at what age can a child refuse to see a parent”, let’s find out the probable reasons. Ideally, a child cannot refuse to see the non-custodial parent. But under the following circumstances, the court may allow for that to happen.

Circumstances When The Court May Allow The Child Refusal To See A Parent

If the child feels unsafe around a parent, the court may consider that to be a valid reason. It may be due to abuse, neglect, or violence.

Additionally, when children grow older, they mature. Thus, courts may consider the reasons behind the refusal to visit the non-custodial parent. If the child is a teenager, for example. The court may feel that they are grown up enough to make a decision for themselves.

Moreover, a strained relationship or lack of bonding can also lead to a child to refuse visitation. Therefore, in these conditions, too, the Court will not force the child to visit the parent. This is because authorities do not want to cause harm to the child’s mental or emotional well-being.  

Lastly, the court may grant the child’s refusal if it lies in the best interests of the child.

At What Age Can A Child Refuse To See A Parent?

The types of child custody may vary from case to case. However, if any of the circumstances above are present, the court will grant the child the right to refuse visitation. No matter how old the child is, the will and well-being of the child will prevail. Thus, under the above conditions, the age of the child will not be an issue.

Other Reasons

If there are no such reasons present, then children under 18 cannot decline to visit the non-custodial parent. This is because they do not have the legal right to make this decision. However, children aged 12 or more can try to voice their concerns in front of a judge.

Thus, the judge can take these preferences into consideration. However, they are not bound by the preferences.

Florida Laws

At what age can a child refuse to see a parent in Florida? In Florida, minors do not have a specific age when they can refuse visitation completely. Moreover, this is applicable, especially if both parents share custody according to court orders.

However, at 18, they can refuse.

Moreover, a child at 14 can choose the parent they want to live with. 14-year-olds or older ones can refuse visits, but the court can override the choice anytime.

Additionally, those under 10 are not seen as mature enough to make such decisions.

Texas Regulations

At what age can a child refuse to see a parent in Texas? In Texas, a child under 18 does not have the right to refuse visitation. Visitation is the legal right of the non-custodial parent. Therefore, neither the custodial parent nor the child can refuse this order.

However, the custodial parent can request order modifications to the order of visitation.

California Regulations

At what age can a child refuse to see a parent in California? Under California law, children cannot decide to decline visitation. However, the Family Code Section 3042 requires that the court take the child’s preference into consideration.

Moreover, this is only possible if they’re mature enough. Since the laws of January 1, 2012, this section only allows 14-year-olds or older children to present their preferences.

Final Word

Now that we are at the end of our article, let us sort it all out with a quick recap. At what age can a child refuse to see a parent? Not before 18.

If the custodial parent does not understand the gravity of the situation, they can even face contempt of court. Yes, you read that right. Visitation is indeed that important. An appellate court found a mother to be in contempt for similar reasons. There, the mother had failed to drive her daughter (13 years) to see her father. However, these were the clear terms of the custody order.

Thus, we always advise parents to hear the child’s worries. However, later, they should try to explain why it’s great and necessary to spend time with both parents.

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Debkanya Bhattacharya
Debkanya is a lawyer turned writer. With an experience of 3 years, she is your go-to source for all things law. She has a soft corner for the US and international section. When the weekend arrives, you'll find her reading up on politics, Austen, or travel blogs over a cup of coffee.

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