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reigns03

Visitation conflicts

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My ex and I have been divorced for almost 6 yrs, and we've got a custody order ( I have sole primary & we share legal) & visitation order in place.

For the past few months, it has become a major struggle to get my son (he's almost 12 yrs old) to wanna go to his father's for his scheduled visitations. And when I say struggle, I mean a full blown anxiety meltdown!!!

Recently, my son tried talking to his father about having the option to choose to attend his visits (my son was told via his counselor, that when he turns 13, the courts would give him the choice of doing visits or not), and as I'm sure you can imagine, that conversation didn't go well. It ended basically with my ex threatening my son that he (the ex) would fight him (my son) tooth and nail in court, it would cost my son $5,000 and he'd (ex) would win and take full custody away from me, costing my son to lose me and it will cost my son his fathers side of the family through the duration of the proceedings.

There have been many issues between my ex & our son, so much so that my son suffers major panic & aniety from the way my ex treats our son.

My question is,....is there legitimately anything that we can do about visitation altering? Was the counselor correct in the fact that the courts would talk to my son & give him the option??

My ex has both myself & my son, in a matter of speaking, scared to reach out to a lawyer or the courts. Not sure where options we do have....if any to help my son.

Concerned mother

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The counselor is dead wrong.  In most if not all states, starting around age 12 or so the judge may allow the child to express his or her own opinions about visitations and the reasons for them.  A lot depends on the judge, the relevant judicial guidelines and the maturity level of the child.  However, in no state is the judge bound to grant the request of a minor child at any age.

 

If visitation is causing emotional harm to your son, you should make an appointment ASAP (if you haven't already) to see a competent pediatric psychologist with him in order to (1) determine whether the visits are actually the cause of the distress and if so, the nature and severity of the problem, and (2) give you and your son the tools and strategies to deal with visits in a positive, constructive way.  If it turns out that Dad really is the root of the problem, the psychologist's report will carry great weight with the court in your effort to appropriately modify the visitation agreement to protect and maintain your son's mental health.

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While a teenager might be consulted about with which parent they prefer to live the majority of the time, in no state does the child get to decide to forgo visitation entirely, nor are they ever the final decision maker on any custody related issues. Until he is 18, he goes to see Dad. Prevent it from happening and it can cause YOU legal problems.

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is there legitimately anything that we can do about visitation altering? Was the counselor correct in the fact that the courts would talk to my son & give him the option?

 

You are free to ask the court to modify the existing visitation arrangements.  I don't know any specifics about Michigan law, but courts will typically take the child's wishes into consideration starting around the age of 12.  However, the child's wishes are but one of many considerations, and no court will completely cut off a parent's right to visitation in the absence of something extreme, such as physical abuse or operating a meth lab.  Your son is going to have to find a way to deal with visiting his father (just as he would if you were still married or just as he would have to find a way to deal living with you if you and he weren't getting along well).

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I also am having difficulties with visitation. The last day of my visitation my father passed away. I begged and pleaded with my kids father to let them stay a few days more under these circumstances and he refuses. Don't I have rights? and what are they? its immediate family aren't they allowed extra time and time off from school? doesn't my mother have rights to also allow my kids the opportunity to grieve because this man is heartless. my mother and father helped me raise them til now and their 8 and 11. he just all of a sudden won custody because he decided he wanted to be a father and had his mom and dad to pay and bribe the courts and my kids still don't live with him. my babies need grieving time are they allowed it?

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You have the right to obey the court order or suffer the consequences of contempt of court.  Unfortunately there are no exceptions unless they have been  written in the court order or the two of you agree.

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