When Child Support Is Late, Can You Withhold Visitation?
Your ex has fallen behind on child support, and you’re understandably frustrated. In fact, you want to motivate your former spouse to bring his or her obligation current.
Unfortunately, you cannot legally withhold visitation rights in Utah, even if child support payments aren’t current.
While it may seem completely fair, stopping your ex from spending parent time with your child is not the answer. In fact, doing so could even land you in legal trouble, and it is not likely to be in your child’s best interests.
Child Support Isn’t the Price for Visitation
It is your child’s right to have a relationship with both parents.
As a part of your divorce, the court decided upon a schedule that allows your child to have visitation with his or her non-custodial parent. The court made this decision with your child’s best interests in mind.
In the eyes of the law, parent time has nothing to do with support; they are two separate issues.
Support isn’t the price your former spouse must pay in order to have parent time. If he or she can’t afford to pay (or refuses to pay for whatever reason), you have no legal basis to withhold visitation.
What Utah Law Says about Late Child Support
As long as your divorce decree says so, your former spouse is obligated by law to help provide for your child’s financial needs.
Likewise, both of you are obligated by law to follow the custody and parent time schedule set forth in the divorce decree. In Utah, as in most other states, child support and visitation terms are court orders that must be obeyed.
The Utah courts state that custodial parents cannot withhold visitation for unpaid or late support. Similarly, the courts do not allow support to be withheld if parent time is denied. In either case, the parent breaking the court order could be held in contempt of court and ordered to pay a fine or serve time in jail.
What Should You Do if Child Support Is Late?
If you have considered withholding visitation, it’s likely that you and your child’s non-custodial parent are not at a point where you can work things out amicably. In that case, you’ll likely need to get the courts involved by filing a motion to enforce the support order.
In response, the court will order a judgment that may include contempt findings and payment for money owed as well as other sanctions, such as wage garnishment or payment of attorney’s fees.
Rather than taking the law into your own hands, trust an experienced legal professional to assist you in situations of this nature. Working with an experienced family law attorney is the best way to ensure that your rights are protected.
If you are owed back child support, call Burton Law to schedule a consultation. From our location in Ogden, Utah, we work with all Utah courts to serve your family law needs.
Contact us today to learn more about how to protect yourself and your family from a parent who refuses to pay child support.