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Carman, Bevington & Finegan Blog

How Old Does a Child Have to be to Refuse Visitation in FL?

Child custody cases in Florida can get complicated, especially when children try to refuse to spend time with one parent or show a particular preference for time-sharing with a specific parent. In general, Florida courts will want to ensure that both parents play a role in their child’s life and upbringing if there is not a reason to deny custody. Given the focus on co-parenting, you may be wondering: how old does a child have to be to refuse visitation in Florida? In short, a child under the age of 18 cannot entirely refuse visitation in most circumstances, but the court can consider the child’s preference in determining a time-sharing arrangement.

If you have a child who is refusing visitation with the other parent, it is important to know that minor children do not have the legal ability to refuse visitation or time-sharing with the other parent entirely. Under Florida law, it is public policy that “each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved.” Unless there is a compelling reason to limit one parent’s time-sharing, such as in situations of abuse or violence, Florida courts will want to be sure that kids do spend time with both parents.

When a child is completely refusing visitation or time with the other parent, Florida law does not permit the parent with whom the child spends a majority of time to refuse visitation to the other parent. That other parent could take steps to enforce any existing time-sharing order, and the refusing parent could be held in contempt of court. To be clear, there is no age at which a minor child can entirely refuse visitation if the court has determined that parents should both have custody, or time-sharing, with the child. Once the child turns 18, the child can refuse to see the other parent.

Kids Can Have Some Say in Time-Sharing, But Florida Law Does Not Identify a Specific Age

While minors cannot entirely refuse visitation with one parent, courts can consider the child’s preference for time-sharing when deciding what type of custody arrangement is in the child’s best interests. When courts make determinations about child custody or time-sharing, one of the factors that they can consider is “the child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.”

As such, there is no specific age at which the court can consider a child’s preference, but the child must be old enough and mature enough to be able to express a time-sharing preference to the court. Then, the court can consider the child’s preference in addition to other relevant factors.

Contact a Florida Child Custody Attorney for Assistance

If your child is refusing visitation, it is important to determine whether there are any underlying issues or concerns and, if so, to seek advice from a child custody lawyer in Florida. Contact Carman and Bevington today to learn more about the services we provide to families in Tampa and Brandon.