In 2016, there were 827,261 divorces in the United States. Many of these divorces involve minor children. Parents who do not have custody of their children are often forced to pay child support. These monthly payments continue until the child turns 18.
In many cases, the father is the one that pays child support to the mother, who has custody of the children. Unfortunately, many men do not pay child support, leaving the mother on her own financially. This can get frustrating, especially when the bills start piling up.
Many couples erroneously believe that visitation rights and child support are connected. This means that the mother may allow the father to see his children only when the child support has been paid. On the flip side, if the father does not pay child support, the mother is under the impression that she can withhold visitation rights until the payments are current.
Is There a Link Between Child Support and Visitation Rights?
Contrary to popular belief, child support and visitation rights are not linked. They are two separate issues. A parent who pays child support is not automatically entitled to visitation rights. On the other hand, if a parent does not pay child support, the custodial parent cannot ban the other parent from seeing the children.
This is important to know because many custodial parents keep the other parent away from the children due to non-payment of child support. This does more harm than good. It prevents the children from having a relationship with both parents. Plus, the custodial parent could get in legal trouble for not following court orders. Some parents are even charged with kidnapping.
This means that if you are a custodial parent, you cannot keep the other parent from seeing the children—whether or not child support is paid. Visitation rights and custody are determined by the court, and the court is the only entity that can make any changes to these decisions.
Dealing With Concerns
Visitation cannot be withheld from a parent for any reason. If you have legitimate concerns about the other parent—such as child abuse, endangerment, substance abuse, or any other issue that could affect one’s ability to parent—then these concerns should be addressed with the court that issued the visitation order.
If you are frustrated about the other parent’s lack of child support payments, yet he or she still wants to see the child, continue with the visitations as ordered. Take advantage of child support services in your area and let them know about the situation. The court can deal with the issue in a variety of ways, such as wage garnishment, interception of government benefits and even jail time.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer Today
The laws surrounding child custody and visitation can be confusing. It is important that as a parent going through a divorce, you understand your legal rights. It is a good idea to contact a family law attorney who can answer your questions.