24 Jan If I Pay Child Support Do I Get Visitation? – It’s Not a Quid Pro Quo
“If she won’t let me see my kid, then I shouldn’t have to pay child support!” This common refrain may be among the top two or three remarks that most family law attorneys hear when handling child support and visitation matters. This is perhaps only tied by “If he won’t pay his child support, then he shouldn’t get to see his child!” While these seem like logical statements, they both miss a very important element of the law. In short, these are both incorrect. Here is why.
What Is Child Support, Really?
There is a common myth that says child support is the child’s money. Not so. Child support is designed to shift funds from one person to the other so that the child continues to have close to the same quality of life as before the divorce. In other words, the money is so the custodial parent can still afford to give the child the same general quality of life.
Child Support is Not Designed to “Purchase” Visitation
Another misconception is that child support and visitation are a sort of quid pro quo (meaning, ‘this for that’). Both of the statements above indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of child support and visitation. Neither is designed to entice or ‘purchase’ the other. A court makes a decision about what is believed to be in the child’s best interests. Just because one parent is not following the plan does not mean the other parent is relieved of their court-ordered financial or custodial responsibilities.
If one parent is not permitting visitation, per the custody agreement, the other parent has specific remedies. Stopping child support payments is not one of them. The same is true of a parent who stops making child support payments. The aggrieved custodial parent has legal remedies, but withholding visitation is not one of them.
What CAN Someone Do if the Other Person is Violating the Court’s Orders?
If a custodial parent is violating a custody agreement by refusing visitation or doing things that substantially interfere with the ability of the other parent to see his or her child, the correct legal option is to bring the matter before the court. A judge has a number of options, ranging from simply clarifying instructions to sanctions, depending on the nature and severity of the offense. Judges can enter orders of protection and even find people in contempt.
On the other hand, the penalties for failing to pay child support are severe and can result in the loss of privileges like driver’s licenses, hunting and fishing licenses, and can even lead to incarceration. But if your ex owes child support, this is a financial obligation that must be taken up with the court and in some cases with state support collections. It does not warrant withholding a child from a parent who the court determined should be permitted visitation. Remember, they’re different issues.
Enforcing Custody and Support Obligations
One of the quickest ways to hurt yourself in family court is to misunderstand the interplay between child support and visitation. An experienced custody and child support lawyer can help you enforce the court order, which may mean bringing a contempt proceeding against your ex. In some cases, violations are so severe that it may indeed have an impact on the other person’s rights. But only the court can alter the order.
Klok Law Firm LLC represents people throughout the Mount Pleasant area in cases involving divorce, custody, child support, and visitation.. If you have questions and don’t know where to turn, contact us today.