Child Visitation Rights for Teens


Divorce can be a difficult process for all involved. Teenagers, though often considered young adults, are typically held to the same visitation schedules as their younger siblings unless extenuating circumstances demonstrate that the teenager has a valid reason to challenge an existing order for or against visitation as written. These decisions are typically made by the assigned judge on a case-by-case basis.

Modification of Schedule

  • As children age, their schedules may become more complicated by issues relating to school, sports and social activities. While a child may desire regular visitation with the non-custodial parent, they may, through the assistance of the custodial parent or court-appointed child advocate, ask the court to modify the visitation order to better accommodate their schedule. This is typically done when one or both parents object to a change in schedule and refuse to accommodate the child's wishes. It is then up to the judge to make the determination as to whether the modification should occur.

Additional Visitation

  • Sometimes teens may feel that they are not receiving enough time with the non-custodial parent. When this is the case and an alternative visitation schedule cannot be reached through traditional means, the child may petition the court for increased visitation through the assistance of an agreeing parent or court-appointed advocate. As is standard in most child custody cases, the decision is often left to the judge when an agreement cannot be reached by the parents on the matter.

Refusing Visitation

  • In extreme cases, a teen may refuse to comply with court-ordered visitation. In this scenario, the teen may be required to speak with the judge directly to explain why they refuse to visit. A court-appointed advocate is typically assigned to interview all parties involved to determine whether or not there is cause to limit or terminate the non-custodial parent's right to visitation. In order for visitation to be denied, it must typically be proven that continued visitation would be detrimental to the child's best interests.

Setting Conditions

  • In certain cases, a teenager's feelings are taken into consideration when placing conditions on the terms of visitation. These conditions may occur in situations where violence has occurred, when the child has a negative relationship with the non-custodial parent's new spouse or significant other or when the non-custodial parent has a history of engaging in activities that may be detrimental to the child. In these cases, visitation may be ordered to occur in a supervised setting or the non-custodial parent may be ordered not to engage in the opposed activities in the presence of the child.

Extended Family

  • All states have their own laws when it comes to the rights of extended family and visitation. A child's individual wishes are often taken into consideration when determining the rights of grandparents or other extended family members to visit, particularly when the child is of an advanced age and the court feels they are able to play an active part in determining who they would like to visit and how often. As with all matters, however, the ultimate decision is typically left to the judge if the interested parties cannot come to an agreement on the matter.


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