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Michigan Family Law Blog

Friday, April 19, 2019

Can Our Teenager Refuse to Spend Time with the Other Parent?

A teenager can have some input on how much time he spends with each parent when the parents are going through a divorce in Michigan. The wishes of the teenager are one of the many factors the judge will consider when deciding custody and parenting time and determining what is in the best interests of the child. Speaking with a Michigan child custody attorney can help guide you if your teen wants to spend more time with the other parent.

Once the judge enters an order of custody and visitation, the child should follow the schedule of visitation. If a teenager wants to stop seeing one parent, the court will need to decide whether a modification of the decree is appropriate. The answer to the question of whether your teenager can refuse to spend time with the other parent will depend on many issues.

Factors to Determine the Best Interests of the Child

Michigan law requires the judge to evaluate these 12 issues before entering a child custody and visitation order:
  • The love, affection, and emotional ties between the parents and the child

  • The capacity and likelihood of the parents to provide love, affection, and guidance, and to continue the child’s education and religious upbringing (if applicable)

  • The capacity and likelihood of the parents to meet the child’s medical and material needs, including food and clothing

  • How long the child has lived in the current setting, whether that situation is stable and acceptable, and whether that arrangement should continue

  • The permanence of the current or proposed custodial home

  • The parents’ moral fitness

  • The parents’ mental and physical health

  • How the child has done in the home, school, and community

  • The reasonable preference of the child, when the judge decides that the child is old enough to state a preference

  • The likelihood of each parent to support a healthy relationship of the child with the other parent, unless there has been sexual assault or domestic violence

  • Domestic violence in the household

  • Any other factor the judge deems relevant

The judge will question the child as to the reason for the preference of one parent over the other, or why he refuses to visit one parent. The judge is likely to find the refusal reasonable if, for example, the parent that the teenager refuses to visit has a lifestyle that is inappropriate for the child, such as, ongoing criminal activity in that parent’s home, illegal drugs, or physical violence.

On the other hand, the judge will not be receptive to a teenager who does not want to go to a parent’s house merely because that parent makes the teen do his homework. The purpose of allowing reasonable input of children who are old enough is to give the child a voice, not to play the parents against each other.

If a teen refuses to comply with an existing custody order, the case should go back to court. Unless there is a risk of harm to the child, she should continue to follow the schedule until the judge rules on the motion to modify the custody and parenting time order.

A Michigan child custody attorney can provide guidance on what to do in your situation. These cases will turn on the facts of the individual situation. Contact Michigan child custody attorney Cameron C. Goulding to discuss your options.


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