A reader posed the following question:
Q: If my ex lives in another state and hasn't seen my child in several months or paid any child support, does he still have the right to see her if he wants?
A: The short answer to the reader's question is yes. The right to visit a child is not premised on the payment of child support. Here is some information about how unpaid child support has an affect on visitation.
Visitation and Unpaid Child Support
The child has the right to both visitation and child support. Visitation with both parents is considered to be in the best interest of the child. If a parent has not paid child support, the child still has the right to visitation. A custodial parent can't deny the non-custodial parent the right to visitation just because there is unpaid child support. Additionally, a non-custodial parent cannot stop child support payments because a custodial parent is denying visitation.
Child Support Factors
Child support is premised on several factors, including:
- Custody (joint or sole physical/legal)
- Additional responsibilities (other children, a spouse, etc.)
Child Support Enforcement
The amount a parent will pay for child support is generally decided at the same time as custody and visitation. Therefore, many parents think they go hand in hand, but in fact, they don't.
A parent who has not received child support should:
- Discuss the lack of payment with the other parent and attempt to reach an agreement as to future payments.
- Go to court and request a garnishment of wages, if the non-custodial parent is employed.
A parent who is unable to pay child support should:
- Request a child support modification
- Remember that child support is not based on the amount of time spent with the child. Child support amounts will only fluctuate with an increase or decrease of income.
Courts will not premise visitation on whether or not a parent pays child support. Although it's difficult for a custodial parent to understand how it's possible to share the benefits of spending time with a child but not share financial responsibilities, both parents should remember that they share an important role in a child's life that is not about finances.