At What Age Can a Child Refuse Visitation in Arizona?
Family court judges throughout the state of Arizona give strong consideration to each child’s preference when making important decisions about parenting time and visitation rights. It is possible for a child to refuse a visitation with his mother or father. State law mandates the child be of suitable maturity and age in order to make such a decision. However, a specific age at which such maturity is reached is not noted. Therefore, a child is not allowed to refuse visitation with a parent until he or she reaches the age of 18. The custodial parent is empowered to file a request to alter the custody agreement due to the child’s unwillingness to visit with his or her non-custodial parent. However, the court’s decisions will be dictated by the best interests of the child. In some situations, these interests do not jive with the child’s desires.
A Look at What Happens When a Child Refuses Visitation
The court’s order detailing parenting time and legal decision-making must be adhered to by both parents. The bottom line is the court’s order is a legally binding agreement. If a parent skips his or her parenting time, the contract has been violated. Even failing to deliver a child to the other parent in a timely manner for his or her scheduled parenting time is a violation of the parenting agreement. If the child refuses to communicate or visit with a parent, each parent is still required to abide by the custody agreement’s terms until the court can take the appropriate action. If the parent still desires to visit with the child in question, he or she can request the court enforce the parenting agreement through mandatory visitation.
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In Some Cases, the Child Rightfully Declines Visitation
Though it is awfully easy to chalk up a child’s refusal to visit with a parent as immaturity and emotional outrage stemming from the divorce, there are some situations in which this refusal is justified. If you believe it is in your child’s interest to refuse visitation with your former spouse, the best approach is to file a lawsuit in family court to alter the custody agreement. If your matrimonial attorney can provide convincing evidence to show your claim has merit and the court agrees with you, the judge can completely eliminate the required visitation. The judge might also decide it is appropriate to alter the legal decision-making part of the agreement as well.
Modifying a Custody Agreement
If your child’s desires are the main reason to request the modification of your custody agreement, the court will send a special investigator to meet with the child. This way, the child does not have to directly address the court. The interviewer will attempt to understand the child’s reasoning for favoring one parent and refusing visits with the other. These findings are presented to the court in a report.
A court hearing will be conducted to provide you with the opportunity to show even more evidence as to why the child’s preferences are grounded in reason. Though verbal testimony will bolster your argument, the presentation of physical evidence will likely sway the judge’s decision in your favor. As an example, if you can provide evidence your former spouse physically abused the child, your request for alterations to the custody agreement will be taken seriously. The judge will ultimately determine if it is prudent to modify the custody agreement to serve the child’s best interests. Find the right matrimonial attorney for this legal battle and you stand a much better chance of emerging with a fair result for your child.
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