A very common question in Texas divorces (http://chrislawyerblog.com/divorce/) or other family law matters is whether a child has to visit with the other parent if they do not wish to. I suppose this could be referred to as child visitation rights although we are really discussing the rights of a parent to visit.
The courts are split on this issue and there is no definitive answer to the question. Some courts in Texas, specifically in Dallas (http://www.dallascourts.com/forms/lstCourts.asp?division=fam) and Collin County (http://www.co.collin.tx.us/district_courts/) where I practice, require that the child be forced to go on visitations with the other parent, while other courts will not press the issue. In Collin County (http://www.collincountytx.gov/district_courts/index.jsp) for example, if the child is 15 years of age or older, some courts will place special visitation provisions in the order allowing the child to work out their own visitation with the parent. An example can be found in the standard possession order here (http://www.collincountytx.gov/district_courts/forms/spo2003.pdf).
Janet Langjahr (http://www.fla-divorcelaw.com/#abt), in her Florida Divorce Law Blog (http://www.fladivorcelawblog.com/) discusses a case where a twelve year old girl was arrested for aggressively resisting her father's forceful exercise of visitation. You can read more about the case in her post here (http://www.fladivorcelawblog.com/2010/06/05/twelve-year-old-florida-girl-arrested-for-aggressively-resisting-her-fathers-forcible-exercise-of-timesharing/).
So what do you do if the child refuses to visit? Should you force them to visit? What if the child reacts negatively?
Well, the good news is that you only have two choices. One, make them go or two, don't.
If you make them go, you stand the chance that the child could be upset with you, act our, or threaten other types of retribution. As a parent, your job is to deal with these types of issues and be the best parent you can be. If you don't make them go, and there is a court order for visitation, then you stand the chance that the court will hold you in contempt of court for failure to provide the child for visitation. This could land you in jail.
In a article by Jason C. Brown on the Minnesota Divorce and Family Law Blog (http://www.mnfamilylawblog.com/) he cites a book by Brette McWhorter Sember (http://www.womansdivorce.com/child-visitation-problems.html) entitled "How to Parent with Your Ex: Working Together for Your Child's Best Interest" (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1572484799?tag=womansdivorcecom&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=1572484799&adid=1YBRDJKETK051GA03WF0&). She makes some good points:
My advise? If you absolutely cannot get the child to go on visitation, or you feel there is a good reason not to allow the visitation, file a motion with the court to modify the visitation order. At least then you may keep yourself out of jail for denying visitation, and perhaps the child can be heard on their preferences as I discussed in an earlier post (http://chrislawyerblog.com/2010/06/when-can-a-child-choose-which-parent-to-live-with-in-texas/).
Always err on the side of following the court's order.
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