At What Age Can a Child Refuse Visitation in Georgia?

When the court orders a custody arrangement, is there a point when a child can decide not to abide by that arrangement? As a child gets older, they might have a better idea of what they want, and they might want to stop trekking between their parents’ homes. Is there a specific age when a child can refuse to visit a parent in Georgia? The short answer is yes, but with some exceptions. Always discuss this matter with a Forsyth County child custody attorney.

14 Years Old

When a child is 11 years old, the court should take their preference into consideration for custody decisions, though their preference is not controlling on the court. Often, courts go against the wishes of 11 to 13-year-olds if the court decides another arrangement is in the best interests of the child.

Once a child turns 14, however, the situation can be different. A child who is 14 can choose to live only with one parent and stop visitation with the other parent. Their wishes are still not the final say, though, as the court will still review the child’s wishes. The following are some case decisions from Georgia courts on this matter:

  • Prater v. Wheeler, 253 GA 649 (1984) - A child who is at least 14 can choose to stop visitation with a parent, but the decision is subject to review by the court to ensure the decision is in the child’s best interests.
  • Worley v. Whiddon, 200 Ga. App. 521 (1991) - The judicial review of a child’s decision to stop visitation is intended to protect the child from one parent’s undue influence, coercion, or parental alienation. The court should, however, give weight to the child’s choice.

Taking the Right Steps to Change a Visitation Order

If your child decides they no longer want to visit their other parent on their 14th birthday, you cannot simply withhold visitation. If you do not take the proper legal steps, you can be found in violation of the custody order, and the court might even hold you in contempt.

Always be sure that the child is certain in their decision before you open the custody case back up. A child psychologist can help your child to determine what they truly want when it comes to their relationship with their other parent.

Once you are sure, you can request a child custody modification. Your child turning 14 years old can serve as justification for the modification, though expect the court to review all of the circumstances involved before deciding whether to grant the modified order.

Seek Help from a Forsyth County Child Custody Attorney

The Forsyth County child custody lawyers at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP, can help parents seek custody modifications and show they are not coercing their child’s decision. We can advise on the best course of action in each case, so please contact us online or call (770) 887-1209 to set up your appointment today.