From the outset, it is vitally important to realize child visitation rights and child support are two completely different issues. The father is legally obliged to financially support their child (or children) and has the right from a legal standpoint to have parenting time with their child (or children.) The visitation rights of the Father to spend time with their child (or children) are not impacted by the fact the father may be behind on their legally agreed child support payments.
Child support is either paid to the state when there is a vested interest in the welfare of the child (or children) or to the custodial parent who has taken on the role of the legal guardianship over the child (or children.) From this, it is clear the state or the parent who has custody of the child (or children) can waive the obligation of the child support payment. The laws differ hugely from state to state as to the amount a father is required to pay to ensure their child (or children) are financially provided for.
Calculating Child Support
The income of the parents is the barometer used by most states when it comes to calculating what the father will owe for child support. However, the following may also be considered:
- The state may be able to make a modification to the obligation of child support currently being enforced based on the father’s circumstances changing. For example, if the father has to take increased custody of the child or because of financial hardship being experienced by the father making him incapable of paying the full amount of child support that is due.
- Many states will offer to help reduce child support payments that are past due to the enforcement of a debt compromise program.
- Child support enforcement may be able to work with the father on an adjusted plan of payment if the father makes contact with them and should he fall behind on the child payments he is obliged to pay.
- Regardless of the father meeting his obligation of child support payments, the child (or children’s) Mother has no legal right to stop the father from having communication and visitation with his child (or children.)
- Child support laws and child custody laws do vary greatly state by state.
Visitation Rights Of The Father
The following is a list of rights the father should be looking to exercise when it comes to being able to have visitation and communication with his child or children:
- A father has the legal obligation to honor financially support his child (or children.)
- A father has a legal right to regular visitation and communication with his adopted or natural child (or children.). Most states favor full 50%/50% child custody so long as both parents are “fit” parents.
- A father, once the paternity has been established is normally allowed either sole custody, physical custody or shared custody of the child (or children.)
- A father’s rights are not automatically forfeited if the father cannot maintain the legal obligation of financial child support.
- A father may potentially suffer a loss of rights if it can be demonstrated he has been absent, neglectful, abusive or abandoned the child.
Learn more about Child Visitation Rights For Fathers
The Role Of The State
If a father is unable to pay his legal obligation of child support for his child or children, he can reach out to the legal system or the state for further assistance. The state will try to secure the child support payment from the father. But the involvement of the state does not preclude the father from visitation with his child (or children.)
Losing Visitation Rights
The father can seek court-ordered visitation if he has yet to lose visitation rights to his child (or children.) There are situations unrelated to the financial support of the child or children, where a father can lose custody and rights of visitation. A court may view a prolonged absence of the father as neglect or abandonment. The court has the power to enact the termination of the father’s parental rights. In this case, the father would not be able to exercise the right of child custody or child (or child) visitation.
Modification Of Custody Motion
If the mother of the child (or children) has sole custody and the father wishes to have shared custody, he must go to the court where the original custodial order was granted and request a modification. At that time he may also address the court and ask the child support order modification. In the case where the father then obtains an agreement for shared physical custody of the child (or children) he then becomes a custodial parent and this has the potential to reduce his financial child support obligations. The court may decide to eliminate payments of child support if the parents agree to share equally expenses and child care costs.
McGrath, Victoria. “Rights for Fathers Paying Child Support.” LegalZoom Legal Info, 18 July 2016, info.legalzoom.com/rights-fathers-paying-child-support-24388.html.
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