Questions and Answers

At what age does a child not have to visit their non-custodial parent?

We live in Cherokee County, GA. My son is 16 yrs old. He does not want to visit his father because of the emotional abuse. He is constantly being negative toward my son. His step-mother is always criticizing my son because his clothes. His clothes are appropriate for his age.

His father pays weekly child support. He doesn’t buy my son clothes or pays for any school related expenses.

My son’s disposition changes when he speaks to his father. He goes from happy to depressed everytime he has contact with his dad.

ANSWER

Some states, like Maryland, have expressly answered this question in the State law or Code. In Maryland, when a child is sixteen (16) he can petition the Court on his own behalf to change a court order for custody or visitation. As a practical matter, when a child is younger than 16, if he has the appropriate maturity and a good reason for not wanting to visit with his father (like the ones you’ve described above), then he will also not be required to spend time with his father. With this being said, it is important to make sure that you, as the custodial parent, are not prohibiting the older child from seeing his father: likewise, you should not encourage this in anyway.

It is always best to have your child work with a child therapist on the issues and feelings associated with the child’s desire not to see his father. This will help both parents understand the situation and work towards repairing the damage to the parent-child relationship in an appropriate setting and timeline. Notably, this will also help you reduce the chance that father files a contempt action against you and it will help your defense if he does.

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