This is the next post in my series on when an Arkansas child can, and cannot, refuse visitation with a parent. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing. It also stressed the need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you are involved in a child visitation dispute. It is important that you speak with counsel sooner rather than later. This is due to the fact that, the longer the situation is allowed to go on, the more likely the Court is to consider the current state of things the “status quo.” This can cause the Court to decline to make a change. In this article I will address the common question of “at what age can a child refuse visitation?” If you are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a Little Rock child custody lawyer.
Arkansas children cannot completely refuse visitation with a parent until they reach the age of eighteen
The simple answer in these types of cases is that in Arkansas there is no age where a minor is automatically given the right to refuse to follow through with visitation. One’s son or daughter does not have this right until they reach the age of majority – which is eighteen. It is important to understand, however, that the older and more mature a child is then the more likely the Court will be to consider the youth’s wishes when the Judge is crafting a child custody order. In the cases of teenagers who are demonstrating a mature decision making process, the Court may be inclined to grant the child a large amount of flexibility as to how visitation is exercised. Such an Order may state, for example, that the youth must spend a certain amount of time with a parent each month but it is left to the child when that time is spent. The Court will, however, require that the parent receive all of the ordered visitation time.
The foregoing is best explained by way of example. Suppose a sixteen year old girl lives primarily with her mother and spends weekends with her father (meaning there is a total of eight days per month spent with dad). Now suppose that the girl is involved in numerous extracurricular activities at school. In order to make her schedule more manageable, the Court may state that the child must spend a total of eight days with the father per month. It would then be left up to the child as to when to spend those days with dad (within reason). If the father is regularly not receiving all of his time, however, the Court may be inclined to order a more strict schedule.
Arkansas Courts will not typically allow children’s flexibility to be used to outright deny visitation
While Courts may grant a child discretion, they will not allow a youth to use this discretion to completely deny a parent visitation. Suppose, for example, a child regularly tells the parent “not today, maybe tomorrow” but never explicitly says that they will not follow through with visitation. Once such conduct is shown to be a pattern, the parent who is not receiving their time may file a Motion with the Court to amend the custody order. It is important to understand that how the Court will respond in a given situation is always going to depend on the facts of the case. Hiring an experienced attorney can help you to gain insight into how the Judge may rule in your particular circumstances.
If you are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a Little Rock child custody lawyer. My office understands that this is a serious time in your life and we will give your case the attention it deserves. This includes providing timely responses to phone calls and staying in regular communication with you throughout the process. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an appointment. I also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the remainder of Arkansas.