Do Children Have to Comply with Visitation Orders in New York?

Parent and Child

Many couples struggle with the emotional challenges of a divorce. However, it's important to remember that it's not just the soon-to-be ex-spouses that are having a hard time. Children involved in a divorce can suffer the most of all, as they often find it difficult to understand why their family dynamic is changing. What's more, many children feel as though they have absolutely no control over their new situation, which can lead them to act out or resist the decisions that their parents make. Some children even end up taking one parent's side over another, despite their love for both of their parents.

As a child custody lawyer on Long Island, Attorney Darren Shapiro often finds himself answering questions about the requirements placed on children during a divorce. For instance, are the children of divorce required to follow the instructions set by the court regarding parenting time and visitation? The simple answer is yes; children are obligated to comply with the court's custody orders. The judge in most visitation and custody cases will listen to the wishes of a child, providing that the child is deemed as being old enough to have sound reasoning. However, though the child's preferences are considered, it's the responsibility of the judge to order what he or she believes is in the best interest of the child - even if that goes against the younger's wishes.

What if Children Refuse to Honor Custody and Visitation Arrangements?

Ultimately, if the courts of New York dictate that a non-custodial spouse should have visitation rights or parenting time, the child is required to attend visitation sessions. However, if the child refuses to attend visitation, the courts may consider various courses of action, depending on the circumstances in question. For instance, a child of "employable age" according to New York law can be constructively emancipated if he or she refuses to maintain a relationship with their non-custodial parent without good cause. However, it's up to the parent seeking emancipation to manage the burden of proof.

As a New York child custody lawyer, Attorney Darren Shapiro has dealt with numerous cases of constructive emancipation over the years, representing many different people. For instance, in one case that Mr. Shapiro references, a non-custodial parent may have been able to eliminate their child support obligation if the child was determined to "abandon" the parent. However, in the case in question, the petitioning parent was unable to show the absence of justification for the child's decision to stay away from them.

Compliance and Child Custody Cases

It's worth noting that court-ordered visitation is generally something dictated by the courts and directed towards the "custodial" parent in a divorce or child custody case to encourage compliance with. If the child in question fails to comply with the visitation order, then the custodial parent may be liable to face legal consequences. This is particularly true if the court believes that the child's refusal to see the non-custodial parent is caused by the custodial parent poisoning or harming the relationship in some way. For instance, the courts would act if it believes the custodial parent consistently told the child bad things about their non-custodial parent or encouraged the child to dislike or fear the other parent.

However, over his years as a child custody attorney, Mr. Shapiro has also been involved in cases where the court may modify a custody order. For instance, of the non-custodial parent's home is found to be unsafe in some way, or the court finds evidence that the non-custodial parent is unable to care appropriately for the child, then the courts will be able to either order supervised visitation, suspend visitation, or eliminate the requirement for visitation. Additionally, as time passes and the child ages, then the court will be able to give more weight to the expressed wishes of the child. For instance, for a teenager close to their eighteenth birthday a court might not have a lot of options to require him or her participate in visitation sessions if they would prefer not to.

If a minor refuses to take part in visitation ordered by the court for any reason, it's the role of the custodial parent to encourage visitation the best that they can. If the child then refuses to participate in visitation sessions despite the best efforts of the custodial parent, the best thing the parent can do is speak to the courts as early as possible in the process, to make sure that they don't end up having to deal with any unwanted legal issues. The courts may suggest something like therapeutic visitation to support the child and non-custodial parent's relationship. Changes of residential custody to who was the non-custodial parent might be possible in some cases of non-compliance with custody and parenting time orders provided the court believes the custody change to be in the best interests of the child.

Need Help with Court-Ordered Visitation?

Whether a child likes it or not, for the most part, compliance with court orders isn't optional. Minor children involved in a divorce in New York will be required to comply with the visitation orders of the courts, though children may resist at first. If you find yourself facing a complex issue such as this, the Law and Mediation Office of Darren M. Shapiro is available to help. Contact Attorney Shapiro today to find out how he can help you on 516-333-6555. Your first half-hour consultation is free of charge.

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