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Florida Custody Laws: When a Child Refuses to Visit a Parent

Posted on June 7, 2021

You’re having a familiar sense of dread: it’s Friday at 5:00 PM and your son is having a meltdown. Your ex is due to pick him up for their weekly visitation and he is refusing to go yet again. Can you relate to this scenario? How can you fulfill your duty to your son but also comply with Florida custody laws?

Unfortunately, this situation is all-too-common and it puts the preferred parent in a legal and ethical quandary. According to Florida Statute 61.13, “It is the public policy of this state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.” As such, the law requires that parents develop a time-sharing plan that details how much time each parent will spend with the child[1]. If a child refuses to visit a parent and the preferred parent is unable to persuade them to visit, that could be construed as the preferred parent not fulfilling their end of the time-sharing agreement.

There are several penalties the courts may impose on a parent if it believes that a parent is not upholding the time-sharing agreement. These include requiring the noncompliant parent to:

  • Pay for attorney and court costs for the other parent
  • Attend a parenting class
  • Do community service
  • Be held in contempt of court[2]

In addition, the noncompliant parent could lose some of their allotted time-sharing and have that time re-allocated to the other parent[3].

So what should a parent do? First, understand why the child does not want to visit the other parent. Often times, it is reasons such as:

  • Stricter rules at the other parent’s house
  • May not feel welcome if the other parent has a new family
  • Would rather go out with their friends (especially as the child becomes a teenager)

Once you know the root cause, try to work with the child and your ex to overcome it. However, if a child indicates that they do not want to go because of fear of abuse or neglect, contact the police and your attorney so that you can protect your child and yourself.

If you are having a hard time complying with your time-sharing agreement because your child refuses to visit your ex, contact an experienced family law practice, like Troy Legal, so that we can understand the specifics of your situation and advise you on how to best proceed.

[1] The Florida Legislature. Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine ( Accessed May 1, 2021.

[2] The Florida Legislature. [2] The Florida Legislature. Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine ( Accessed May 1, 2021.

[3]The Florida Legislature. [3] The Florida Legislature. Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine ( Accessed May 1, 2021.

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