Can my 17-year-old son refuse to spend time with his father when he’s being verbally abusive?
The father of my children has a history of being verbally and emotionally abusive. It has come to a boiling point with our 17-year-old son. My son has come to me in tears wanting to stay home because he can’t face another weekend of hearing his dad yelling at him. What can I do? Neither one of us has legal custody of our son, we’ve been able to co-parent outside of the court system up until now. Do we have any rights at all?
You may want to discuss the matter with your son’s father. It is best to try and resolve matters pertaining to custody outside of the court. This will allow more flexibility on how you two want to co-parent.
If your son’s father refuses to address the matter, and your son continues to suffer, you may want to consider obtaining a custody order. Depending on the nature of your requested custody arrangement, your son may need to have a psychological evaluation done to see if the current relationship he has with his father is in fact harmful. Since your son is 17-years-old, the court may hear his testimony regarding the relationship he has with his father. Keep in mind that the judge will seek to foster the relationship between your son and his father and will urge the father to seek treatment if applicable and perhaps order supervised visitations until the relationship improves.