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When does a child have the right to refuse to go for visitation?

Kennewick, WA |

Father has custody of 14 year old. Mother has visitation every other weekend. There are time the child wants to participate in sports and other activities. Can the child refuse to go for weekend visitation? When does a parenting plan end, when the child is 18 or graduates from high school?

Attorney Answers 1


  1. Children in Washington become adults the second they turn age eighteen.

    Before the child is an adult, if she refuses to cooperate with visitation, that can cause a practical and legal problem. While a parent should not be punished for the actions of a truly recalcitrant child, punishment is appropriate when the parent is the source of the child’s attitude or fails to overcome the child’s recalcitrance when, considering the child’s age and maturity, it is within that parent’s power to do so. Where a child resists court-ordered visitation and where the evidence establishes that the parent primarily responsible for the care of the child either contributes to the child’s attitude or fails to make reasonable efforts to require the child to comply with the parenting plan, such parent may be deemed to have acted in ‘bad faith’ for purposes of finding contempt under RCW 26.09.160(1). See Rideout v. Rideout, 150 Wn.2d 337, 77 P.3d 1174 (2003);

    If the Mother does not excercise visitation, she is technically in contempt of court and could theoretically be arrrested and jailed.

    You don't state where the child and Mother reside in proximity to each other. Why not ask the Mother to accomodate the child's schedule, if practical, and if she refuses, seek a modification of the parenting plan to add that requirement?

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