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How to legally handle a child's refusal to visit a parent in New York.

Understanding the Legal Framework

In New York, custody and visitation matters are governed by the best interests of the child. When a child refuses to visit a parent, it can be a complex situation that requires careful legal consideration. It's essential to determine the underlying reasons for the refusal and address them accordingly.

Navigating Refusal to Visit

Legally handling a child's refusal to visit a parent involves several steps. Initially, it is vital to review the custody and visitation order. Non-compliance with court orders can have legal repercussions. Parents should document any instances of refusal and attempt to understand the child’s reasons.

If the child is of sufficient age and maturity, their preference may be considered by the court. However, this does not mean a child can dictate visitation terms unilaterally.

Seeking Legal Advice

Consulting with a family attorney is crucial in these situations. An attorney can provide guidance on modifying visitation orders or representing a parent's interests in court. Mediation is also an option where parents and children can discuss issues with a neutral third party.

Modification of Visitation Orders

In cases where the child's well-being is at stake, a petition to modify the visitation order may be necessary. Courts may consider changes if there’s evidence of harm or if the child's needs have significantly changed.

Enforcement of Visitation Rights

If one parent believes the other is unjustifiably interfering with visitation rights, they may file for enforcement of the order. The court may provide remedies such as makeup visitation time or, in extreme cases, modifying custody arrangements.

Historical References

Historically, cases such as Troxel v. Granville (2000) emphasize the importance of considering a child’s best interests and parental rights when determining visitation. While this case is not New York-specific, it underscores the delicate balance courts must maintain in custodial matters.


A child’s refusal to visit a parent requires a sensitive and legal approach. Parents must work within the legal framework and seek professional advice to ensure that their actions are in compliance with the law and in the best interests of the child.