Child support vs. Visitation: The Great Struggle.

Many clients will call my office needing advice because they are paying child support, yet being denied or limited in their visitation with the child(ren) in some way.  Logically, if you are paying for something, you should receive something in return, right? Well, not necessarily.  You see, child support is an obligation that each parent owes to their child.  Access to the child is a right that each parent has, just as a parent.  The two things are mutually exclusive.

It can be difficult for many clients to understand, but paying child support does not establish your rights to visitation.  Additionally, the reverse is also true.  Failure to pay child support does not in itself terminate a parents right to have access to their child.

It is not uncommon for custodial parents to use access to the child(ren), to force the non-custodian parent into a particular course of action.  This is highly frowned upon in family court.  Nevertheless, when addressing the issue of visitation, the court is tasked with deciding what is in the “best interest” of the child.  To reach this conclusion, there are factors that the court examines–  none of which is the amount of child support being paid.

Dealing with issues in family court can take an emotional and financial toll.  These matters are often times complex and require time and effort to put the pieces together.  Therefore, if you believe you are being denied visitation or access to your child, you should speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney to discuss your rights and options.