What To Do When a Teenager Doesn’t Want to Visit Non-Custodial Parent in Michigan
January 1, 2024 – Rob LaBre
Olivia sat nervously at her kitchen table, flipping through the pages of her divorce agreement. Her heart sank as she read the clause defining the custody arrangement between her and her ex-husband, Mark. Like many divorced parents, Olivia and Mark had always strived to prioritize their teenage daughter’s well-being. However, recently, a new challenge presented itself: their daughter, Emily, was refusing visitation with her non-custodial father as outlined in their parenting time order.
As Olivia sipped her hot coffee, memories flooded her mind. She vividly recalled the glowing smiles and laughter shared during family outings when Emily was younger. But now, with adolescence in full swing, things have changed. Emily had become more independent, asserting her preferences and questioning the structure of their once harmonious co-parenting arrangement.
This struggle is not unique to Olivia and Mark. In Michigan, countless divorced parents face the complex issue of teenagers resisting visitation with their non-custodial parent, as evidenced by the ubiquitous online search term, “teenager doesn’t want to visit non-custodial parent.” It’s an emotionally fraught situation that can leave both parents feeling helpless and unsure of how to proceed. Should they hire a child custody lawyer, change the parenting agreement or discipline their child for refusing visitation?
If your teen does not honor the parenting agreement, it can create conflict and hardship for everyone involved. This blog from a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer explains how Michigan parenting time works and the steps you can take to alleviate the situation if your teen refuses to honor the terms of your parenting plan. Continue reading to learn more, then call us at (269) 431-2058 to schedule a consultation.
At the LaBre Law Office, excellence is our standard.
What Is Michigan Parenting Time?
In Michigan, “parenting time” refers to the time a child spends with each parent when they do not reside in the same home. Every child has this right with each parent unless a judge determines that it would pose a risk to the child’s physical, mental, or emotional well-being.
Creating parenting plans is an essential part of the divorce process. These plans establish the custody arrangement, ensuring a clear understanding of parental responsibility. Whether the arrangement is equal or not, these agreements outline fundamental factors such as:
- Parental adaptability
- Current living situation
- History of domestic violence
- Parental health
- Special needs
Raising a child in separate homes brings unique challenges, including stepfamily dynamics and communication about changes in the child’s life. It can also amplify differences in parenting styles. A parenting time schedule addresses these challenges by providing predictability and consistency for the child and parents. It enables both parents to play an active role in their child’s life, which is essential for healthy child-parent relationships and the child’s overall well-being, academic success, and mental health.
How Does Parenting Time Differ from Child Custody?
Unlike custody, parenting time pertains to how a child spends time with each parent, including having a schedule of days and opportunities for virtual or phone contact. A parent can still be a joint legal or physical custodian, even if they have less parenting time than the other parent. Similarly, parents who spend equal amounts of parenting time with their child may still have a sole legal custodian if they cannot cooperate on decision-making. The court ultimately has the power to determine the custodial arrangement based on what is in the best interest of the child.
Why Do Some Teenagers Refuse to Comply with Visitation Orders?
Is your teenager refusing to comply with a court order to spend time with you? Understand the most common reasons why teenagers refuse visitation to resolve the problem.
The Teenager Does Not Enjoy Spending Time with Non-Custodial Parent
The most prevalent reason teenagers decline to spend time with a non-custodial parent is their personal choice. They might not find the non-custodial parent’s house enjoyable or simply have other priorities they prefer to pursue.
The Teenager’s Schedule is Too Busy
Teenagers occupy themselves with sports, hobbies, and extracurricular activities, which can sometimes lead to them missing out on their scheduled parenting time. However, finding ways to incorporate your parenting time into your teenager’s existing activities can benefit you and your teen.
The Other Parent Encourages Them to Refuse Visitation
Regrettably, visitation agreements can often be marred by a lack of compliance on the part of the other parent, such as when the primary custodian exerts pressure or manipulation to discourage them from spending time with the non-custodial parent.
How Does Michigan Law Deal with Teenagers Who Don’t Want to Visit the Non-Custodial Parent?
In Michigan, teenagers can have a say in how much time they spend with each parent during a divorce. Their preferences are one of several factors the judge considers when determining custody and parenting time, and what is best for the child. If your teen wants to spend more time with the other parent, consult a Michigan child custody lawyer for guidance.
Once a judge issues a custody and visitation order, the child needs to follow the visitation schedule. If a teen wishes to stop seeing one parent, the court must determine if modifying the decree is appropriate. Whether or not your teenager can refuse to spend time with the other parent depends on various factors.
What Can You Do to Improve Parenting Time Compliance?
Give Your Teen Control
Empower your teenager and strengthen your bond by relinquishing control over their free time. Granting them autonomy over when and how they engage with you can foster a greater willingness to abide by the court order.
Acknowledge that parenting time agreements can pose overwhelming challenges for children and teens. The idea of dividing their lives between two parents can be emotionally taxing, especially if they are still recovering from the aftermath of a divorce, separation, or any other significant event that prompted the establishment of visitation terms.
To alleviate their burden and foster a smoother transition, prioritize understanding and empathy during their visits. By demonstrating genuine care and consideration, parents can contribute to the improvement of their child or teen’s compliance and overall well-being.
Enhance Your Time Together
Ensure an enthusiastic reception during future visits with your teen by refraining from constant reprimands. Opt for a more enjoyable and engaging experience by seeking out activities that cater to their interests.
Seek Professional Assistance
To rebuild your teen’s trust and improve their compliance with parenting time, consider getting professional support. Schedule an appointment with a family counselor, who can help address these issues. Your teen may initially resist this suggestion, but seeking assistance can pave the way for positive change.
LaBre Law Office’s Family Law Lawyers in Michigan Can Help
Addressing a teenager’s refusal to visit their non-custodial parent is a delicate matter that requires sensitivity, understanding, and legal knowledge. By engaging in open communication, seeking professional help when necessary, exploring mediation or modification options, documenting incidents, and consulting with an experienced attorney, divorced parents in Michigan can navigate this complex situation and find a resolution that prioritizes the well-being of their child.
Have you been searching online for a “child custody attorney near me?” With 43 years of combined experience, in-depth command of the law, and litigation experience, LaBre Law Office’s family law lawyers in Michigan understand that each case is unique, and what works for one family may not work for another. Contact us at (269) 431-2058 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation. We’ll provide personalized guidance tailored to your specific circumstances and the laws of Michigan. Excellence is our standard.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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