Can a child refuse visitation with a parent?

Mens divorce lawyerQuestion:

My teenage daughter no longer wishes to visit her mother.

If she refuses to spend visitation time with my ex-wife, can I get in trouble for that? Is there a way I can stop these visitations?


In order to modify an earlier order, a new suit must be filed. In order to change the terms and conditions of an existing court ordered custody arrangement, you will need to file a suit to modify custody.

A custody order can generally be modified on four different grounds: 1) an agreement by the parties plus it is in the best interest of the child, 2) the child is at least 12 years of age and expresses a preference of which parent he or she prefers to live with, plus it is in the best interest of the child, 3) the parent with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence has voluntarily relinquished primary care and possess of the child for at least six months, plus it in in the best interest of the child, and 4) there is a material and substantial change in the circumstances of the child and it is in the best interest of the child. See Tex. Fam. Code §§ 153.007(a) and 156.101.

Applicable here is the second ground.

The court can modify a custody order if (1) the child is at least 12 years of age and expresses a preference of which parent he or she prefers to live with in chambers to the court, and (2) it is in the best interest of the child.

To determine whether the modification would be in the best interest of the child, the court considers various factors, including caring for the child, maintaining family relationships and parental fitness. To determine the child’s preference, the judge will interview the child in chambers.

For more information please contact a Texas family law attorney. Please be advised that my answering of this question does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located in 18 states.


Jennifer Hankinson is a Staff Attorney in the Dallas, Texas office of Cordell & Cordell, where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Hankinson is licensed in the state of Texas. Ms. Hankinson received her bachelors’ degrees in both Finance and Political Science from Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. She later received her Juris Doctor from Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington, where she graduated Cum Laude.  

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6 Comments on "Can a child refuse visitation with a parent?"

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Mikayla Phillips
1 month 14 hours ago

I’m 17 years old and I live with my dad, he has full custody of my brother (16 years old) and me (girl). I don’t get along with him at all and I wanna go to my moms on his weekends but he tells me I can’t. Am I capable of refusing to spend time with him on his weekend although he has custody of me?

1 month 3 days ago

I think children should have a option whn they understand and can talk around 6 yrs old !

Joe bag o donuts
6 months 25 days ago
If the child is unhappy, subjected to inappropriate behaviors and involved or witnesses said behavior then as long as the child is of sound mind, they should be able to choose who they want to spend their time with. If the court is involved, its because one or both parents are attempting to retain control. In my experience, its not about the kids at all. Its all about control and financial gain. Children are not pawns in a chess game and should be given the respect to know what is in their best interest at a specified age. California says… Read more »
The Parent
4 years 1 month ago

What about a convicted criminal
THats not correct You may be a normal person. Some people have mental illness that are difficult to digniose such as; anti socail disorder, etc.
You have probaly not let your children OD, play with your illegal drugs, let you 3 yr old play with power tools. take your baby to drug dealers with 2 attack dogs, killed your pets in front of children. The list goes on and on

James Baughman
5 years 2 months ago

I think that custody arrangement should be grafted in stone even when the child want them to change. That child didnt become a member of the family of choice. Their presence in the family was executed by the sole discretion of two parents. This should not change simply because of divorce. It is both a sin to do so and a belittling of the role of each parent in the life of his/her child. A war that must be fought, it unsuccessfully in court and through the due process than by blood!!!!!!!

3 months 29 days ago

If the parent makes the child feel bad about themselves or it is emotionally damaging to the child then of course that child has a right not to want to spend time with that parent!! Would you like the court to order you to be around someone who is emotionally unhealthy for you. Jeez kids have feelings too.