What can I do if my daughter is 13 and no longer wants to go to her father’s house?

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What can I do if my daughter is 13 and no longer wants to go to her father’s house?

She will be 14 next month. I have custody of her and her dad has standard visitation. She doesn’t want to go to her dad’s house any more. Dad takes her late to school and sometimes doesn’t take her to school on his Monday or Friday. Her dad doesn’t have appropriate space for her. They tell her she can only eat once a day because they don’t have the money for her to eat. Do I have to force her to go? What can I do?

Asked on January 12, 2016 under Family Law, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Technically, your daughter cannot decide to stop her visitation with her father. Since there is a court order in effect it can only be modified by the court. However, as a practical matter, she is at that age when you cannot physically force her to visit with her father. Even if you threatened her with some sort of punishment, it isn't likely to get her to want to go. 
 
In recognition of this, the courts have typically tended to hold the teenagers responsible for their behavior with respect to visitation, not the custodial parent. The fact is that a judge is unlikely to find you in contempt for failing to comply with the visitation order. Therefore, this leaves her father (the non-custodial parent) largely without a remedy for enforcement of the order. Also, if this matter does go to court and it can be shown that your daughter is being taken late to school or not at all and she is not being given enough food or there isn't enough room for her when she stays there, this will give support for at least reduction of visitation (although probably not an outright elimination of it).
 
At this point, you should consider consult directly with a local divorce attorney. They can best advise at to what you can do.


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