Can I Withhold Visitation if my Ex-Spouse Doesn’t Pay Child Support?
Many parents that have been divorced are faced with frustrating financial situations. When one parent can’t or simply won’t pay child support, things get even worse. This can lead to one parent finding themselves in a tight spot, and unsure how to fix the issue. One solution that comes to mind is to withhold visitation until the parent begins paying child support again. Although this seems like a simple and logical answer to a problem, it is something that should not be done.
You may be asking yourself, “why.” It may seem fair on the surface that they unreliable parent should not be able to see their children. After all, they are not helping to support them. However, the laws and regulations behind child support and visitation are not that simple. The court system views these issues as separate legal items. Failing to pay mandated child support is in fact illegal. However, refusing to allow that parent to see their children is also an illegal activity. Even though you may feel justified (and perhaps rightfully so) you do not have the right to decide if a parent can see their children.
Parent rights and visitation explained
Rights do not begin and end with the parents alone. Each and every child has a legal right to have a relationship with both parents. In other words, a child cannot be punished by severing a parental relationship, because that parent is not paying child support. Another sometimes confusing point is that every parent has a financial obligation to support their children. Even in cases of non-custodial parents who do not wish to have relationships with their children. That is why we sometimes see parents paying child support for children they have only meet a handful of times.
What can be done about unpaid child support?
In general, it is a good idea to avoid an ever-escalating fight between you and your ex. You also do not want to risk your good standing in the eyes of the court. Lastly, one illegal activity does not justify another illegal act. If you are dealing with a situation where child support is not being paid you have options. You can call your local child support enforcement office to report the issue. Depending on the situation they can garnish their wages of the offending parent. Other responses can include refusing a passport, intercepting unemployment compensation, and even enforcing jail time. It is best to speak with professionals before taking things into your own hands. If you have any questions or concerns contact a family law firm near you to request a case review or speak with an attorney.
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