My daughter is 14 and no longer wishes to go see her father....it has gotten to the point where she refuses to get in the car....can her father hold me in contempt of court?
3 Answers from Attorneys
Yes, and you need to encourage the visitation. Your non-compliance can land you in jail, cost you custody, or at the least, cost you a lot of legal fees. Make sure your daughter understands the consequences and make sure the visitations occur.
The older the child gets the less the court will enforce a strict visitation schedule. However, your 14 year old does not have the right to decide she simply doesn't want to go. You do not need to feed into her decision. You need to encourage her to go. You may also work with the father to see if perhaps a temporary Saturday/Sunday arrangement may help. As your daughter gets into high school, there will be school events she will want to attend on Friday nights, i.e., football games, basketball games etc. At that time she may need to have some input. I encourage you and the father to work together to find out 1st what the issue is as to her reluctance to visit, and 2nd how to best facilitate visitation. You and the father may be at odds, but when it comes to your daughter, you need to provide a solid front. Otherwise, she will be able to work one against the other. You may want to get the assistance of a family counselor to work with you, your daughter and her father.
You cannot prevent her from going, nor should you encourage her in any way not to go, as this would give him the right to file a contempt action against you. If she feels strongly enough about it, given her age a modification of visitation may be an option. You would have to file an action against him to modify his visitation, and a Judge may end that visitation if there is a compelling enough reason. However, if she is being a typical teenager and just does not want to go because she is bored, does not like his new wife and kids, wants to stay where her friends are, or just does not like him, a Judge will likely not modify visitation and award him attorney's fees for having to defend the action. Find out why she is being this way and, if the reason is a very good one, sit down with an attorney who is familiar with the court where your case would be pending to find out what your chances are.