Can I Refuse Visitation for Unpaid Child Support?
Child support is a financial obligation one parent pays the other to cover the costs of raising a child after a separation or divorce. It is designed to ensure that both parents contribute to the child’s well-being and maintain a standard of living similar to what they had before the separation.
Child support is meant to help cover the child’s basic needs, like food, housing, clothing, transportation, and health care. The amount of child support is typically determined by state guidelines that consider factors such as the parents’ incomes, the number of children involved, and the amount of time each parent spends with the child.
It is crucial to understand that visitation and child support are two distinct legal issues. Visitation refers to the non-custodial parent’s right to spend time with their child, while child support is a financial obligation. Courts view these matters separately because they serve different purposes; visitation is about maintaining the parent-child relationship, whereas child support is about providing financial resources for the child’s care.
Refusing visitation due to unpaid child support is not a legally acceptable solution. If a custodial parent denies visitation to the non-custodial parent, they may face consequences such as fines, legal issues, or even loss of custody. Courts prioritize the child’s best interests, and maintaining a relationship with both parents is generally considered in the child’s best interest.
Enforcing Child Support Payments
Instead of denying visitation, a parent should focus on the legal options for enforcing child support payments. These options include contempt of court, wage garnishment, and tax intercepts:
- Contempt of court: If the non-custodial parent fails to make child support payments as ordered by the court, the custodial parent can file a motion for contempt. The court will then hold a hearing to determine whether the non-custodial parent has violated the order. If found in contempt, the non-custodial parent may face penalties such as fines, jail time, or both. The court may also order them to pay the outstanding child support amount.
- Wage garnishment: Wage garnishment is another legal option for collecting unpaid child support. This involves obtaining a court order that directs the non-custodial parent’s employer to withhold a portion of their wages and send it directly to the custodial parent. Wage garnishment can effectively ensure consistent child support payments, as it bypasses the non-custodial parent and goes straight to the custodial parent.
- Tax intercept: If the non-custodial parent owes a significant amount of back-due child support, the custodial parent may request a tax intercept. This means the government will seize the non-custodial parent’s tax refund and apply it toward the unpaid child support balance. To initiate this process, the custodial parent must contact their state’s child support enforcement agency, which will then work with the IRS or state tax authorities to intercept the refund.
A Marlton Divorce Lawyer at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. Can Help You Collect Unpaid Child Support
While you cannot refuse visitation because of unpaid child support, you may have additional legal options. A Marlton divorce lawyer at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. can help guide you through this process. Call us at 856-890-9400 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Located in Marlton, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, and Gloucester County.