Can a Noncustodial Parent Lose Visitation for Nonpayment of Child Support?

By Heather Frances J.D.

Courts encourage relationships between parents and children, so an ex-spouse who does not pay child support as ordered generally will not lose court-ordered visitation just because of the nonpayment. However, this does not mean the spouse receiving child support does not have resources to enforce the child support order and collect past-due payments.

Best Interests

Child support and visitation are two separate issues in the eyes of the courts. When addressing child custody and visitation, the court’s ultimate goal is to create a situation that is in the best interests of the child. Generally, courts believe it is in the best interests of the child to have a relationship with both parents, and courts often create custody and visitation arrangements where the child has some time with each parent to foster the bond between them. Though the amount of time a parent spends with his child can factor into the court’s decision about how much child support the noncustodial parent must pay, child support is not a way to buy time with the child.

Supervised Visitation

A family law court may order supervised visitation for many reasons, based on state law and what the court determines is in the child’s best interests. For example, supervised visitation may be appropriate when the noncustodial parent has a tendency to visit with the child while intoxicated, allows the child to engage in risky or dangerous behavior during visitation, or threatens or abuses the child. However, nonpayment of child support generally is not a reason for a court to order supervised visitation instead of unsupervised visitation.

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Custodial Parent

Custody and visitation orders are binding on both spouses, and the custodial parent cannot refuse to honor the noncustodial parent’s rights to visitation. Refusal would violate a court order and could endanger the parent’s custody rights. If the noncustodial parent chose to take the case to court to enforce his visitation rights, the court could award more visitation to the noncustodial parent to compensate for the lost time. In some cases, the court may even change the child’s primary custodian.

Nonpayment Remedies

You may consult with your state’s child support enforcement agency if you are not receiving child support payments as ordered. These agencies can help you collect child support through a variety of methods, including wage garnishment, liens on your ex-spouse’s property, seizure of your ex-spouse’s tax refund and revocation of his driver’s license. Withholding visitation time between the noncustodial parent and the child is not one of these options.

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The Fastest Way to Restore Visitation if Denied in Missouri


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Can a Parent With Sole Custody Deny Visits?

If you have sole custody, you probably have a court order that awards you both legal custody and physical custody. Physical custody means that your child lives with you. Legal custody means you make all important decisions regarding your child without input from his other parent. Because all states believe a child should enjoy regular contact with both parents, the court order giving you sole custody probably specifies visitation times between your child and your ex. If so, you can’t suspend that visitation on your own. Only the court can deny visitation.

New York Statute for Visitation

The best interests of the child is paramount in determinations of child custody in New York. To that end, it is preferable that parents reach a voluntary agreement instead of going to court. However, if they cannot reach an agreement, the court will make a determination as to both legal and physical custody, with the nonresidential parent generally provided visitation rights as part of sole custody orders. Further, the court may be petitioned when issues with visitation arise and the parents cannot agree.

Can Family Court Force a Mother to Give Up Her Parental Rights & Also Her Visitation Rights?

When you divorce, the court will determine how custody of your children is split between you and your spouse, and the court has authority to remove all parental rights from either parent under provisions in your state’s laws. Generally, the court’s decisions are based on the best interests of your child, which usually involve giving the child a chance to form bonds with both parents.

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