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We all want to spend more time with our kids. And if you're divorced, there are probably good reasons why you might not have warm feelings towards your ex. So when your child says she doesn't want to go to your ex's for visitation or joint custody, that should be a good thing right?
Not necessarily. Child custody agreements are legally binding, and disobeying one could get you into trouble. So can you force your child to obey a custody order?
Not complying with a court ordered custody arrangement is known as custodial interference, and can be charged as a crime in some states. These criminal statutes can vary by state and may depend on the age of your child and the nature of the interference.
The court that issued the custody order could also hold a parent in contempt of court for interfering with the order. Normally, contempt charges are handled with fines or further orders, but occasionally a judge may order incarceration if a person continually fails to comply.
Anyone with kids knows it's nearly impossible to get them to do something they don't want to do. But in this case, parents must make an effort, especially with younger kids. While parents are normally deemed to be in control of, or at least liable for, the actions of their young children, courts often interpret a child's refusal to visit as the custodial parent's interference. On the other hand, courts are sympathetic to parents if a child 16 or older refuses to go, and in some cases will hold the child responsible for violating the order.
No matter how old your kids, you need to talk to them and make them understand that obeying the custody order is mandatory and not an option. You should make them aware of your ex's parental visitation rights, and hopefully they will obey the order on their own.
If not, you may have to modify the custody agreement. If you think you need legal help complying with or modifying a child custody agreement, you can contact an experienced child custody attorney in your area.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.