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Can you deny visitation if your co-parent withholds support?

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2023 | Child Custody

When the family court rules on child support and child visitation orders, it does so in the best interests of the child and with the expectation that both parties will obey the orders. And while some divorced couples are able to put aside their differences and focus on the child’s upbringing, it is not uncommon for others to turn children into pawns in their conflicts. 

If you have primary custody of the child, the court may order the non-custodial parent to pay child support. This payment is meant to cater to the child’s day-to-day needs like food, clothing, housing, medication and school among others. 

What if the non-custodial parent is not keeping up with their child support payments? Do they still have the right to see the child?

Child visitation and child support are two independent rulings

You cannot legally deny visitation on grounds of unpaid child support. In the heat of the moment, of course, you may feel your co-parent does not deserve to see a child for whom they no longer provide. However, it is important to understand that denying or restricting visitation based on the other parent’s failure to pay child support is simply illegal. In fact, this is tantamount to using the child as a bargaining chip. 

Withholding visitation comes with its share of consequences. Your co-parent can immediately involve the court in enforcing the visitation order. And if nothing changes, the court may charge you with contempt – and that can even lead to changes in your custody orders so that your co-parent is put in control.

So what do you do if your ex is not paying child support?

Failure to pay court-ordered child support is, in and of itself, an issue the court will address. If your co-parent is not paying child support, do not take matters into your own hands by withholding visitation. Instead, understand and exercise your legal options