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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3 comments on “Can a child refuse visitation with a parent?

    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!!!!!!!

    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

    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 14 years old and the child has a voice. I think it should be 12 but that’s just my opinion. The root of the problem is these damn medications that make people crazy, literally. Seems hopeless at times but at least my kids have been taught to stand up for what they believe and respectfully voice their concerns. Just sayin

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