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Why Can't I Withhold Visitation for Unpaid Child Support?


Mature man holding son and looking at woman in foreground
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Question: Why Can't I Withhold Visitation for Unpaid Child Support?
In desperation, many parents wonder why they can't just withhold visitation in response to unpaid child support. In sheer frustration, they ask, "Wouldn't it finally force my ex to pay up?"

Child support and visitation are viewed as two completely separate issues in the eyes of the law. Parents don't "earn" the right to a relationship with their child by paying child support. It seems like that would be logical, but it just doesn't work that way. Before you go so far as to withhold visitation for unpaid child support, consider the following:

Visitation is Your Child's Right
Ultimately, it is each child's right to be able to know and enjoy a relationship with both parents. If a non-custodial parent can't afford to pay child support (for example, due to a job loss), then the child shouldn't have to "pay" by being prevented from having a relationship with him or her.

Financial Support is Each Parents' Responsibility
In addition, it is both parents' responsibility to provide for a child's financial needs. Deciding not to have a relationship with one's child, as some non-custodial parents have done, does not excuse the parent from his or her financial responsibilities. Therefore, parents who don't regularly see their children are still required to pay child support.

What You Should Do About Unpaid Child Support
If you're frustrated over unpaid child support, contact your local Office of Child Support Enforcement to report your concerns. They will be able to apply sanctions, such as garnishing pay, not allowing him or her to obtain a legal passport, intercepting unemployment compensation, and even enforcing jail time.

What You Should Not Do About Unpaid Child Support
Do not fall into the trap of withholding visitations over unpaid child support. In determining custody issues, many jurisdictions are placing increasing importance on whether each parent supports the child's relationship with the other parent. Therefore, any attempt to withhold visitation - except in situations where you believe your child is in danger - could ultimately be used against you.

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