Many parents find child support and visitation confusing. It’s not just you who is curious about the exact moment and manner in which these two align. Parental awareness is necessary because, according to state law, the two issues are actually distinct. Recognize your parental rights whether you are the primary custodial parent or the non-custodial parent.
Why the Courts Consider Visitation and Child Support Separately
Child support and child custody are considered separate issues by courts. Regardless of their experience or level of competence as parents, parents are still obligated to pay child support. All children, regardless of the type of custody and/or visitation arrangements in place, are entitled to this financial support.
Protecting the child’s best interests is the foundation for both child custody decisions. While there are many considerations, regularity and safety are usually at the top of the list.
The opportunity for the children to have nearly as much contact with each parent as they did prior to the separation and/or divorce may also be prioritized by the courts, subject to the child custody regulations recognized by a particular state. Seldom is the failure to pay child support considered a justification for limiting the children’s time with the non-custodial parent.
In any case, if the parent who is required to pay child support is current on those arrears, the court may suggest generous visitation or even shared custody.
The Impact of Missed Appointments
Visits that are cancelled are another common source of annoyance. When the non-custodial parent doesn’t follow the visitation schedule, what is the parent meant to do? Should the custodial parent continue scheduling visitation hours and endure excruciating meltdowns and outbursts after failing to show up?
Unfortunately, the custodial parent has limited options if the non-custodial parent chooses not to follow a visitation schedule that was mandated by the court. They can make an effort to get in touch with the other parent and find out why they aren’t attending the scheduled visitations. Alternatively, they could go back to court with the non-parent and ask for a different visitation schedule.
Kids and Refusing to Attend Visitations
Admit it: When a child doesn’t want to see their parent, no one can (or should) force them to. However, dealing with a child’s refusal of visitation may result in legal ramifications. In the event that kids balk at going on a planned visit with their other parent, you should:
- Talk to them about their reasons for not wanting to participate in the visit (if they are concerned for their safety, ask to speak with your attorney).
Assure your kids that you want them to spend time with the other parent and that their parents love them.
Explain the concept of visitation and the reasons it’s crucial for them to spend time with each of their parents.
Discuss with the other parent whether it would be possible for your kids to take a vacation or have fewer visits in certain situations.
What Happens If the Parent with Custody Refuses to Permit Visitation?
As the parent with custodial rights, they must adhere to the visitation schedule (sometimes referred to as a parenting plan) set by the court. Even in cases where the non-custodial parent fails to pay child support, this remains valid. You must continue to permit the visits as scheduled even though you have the option to ask the court to enforce the child support order.
The custodial parent should contact their family attorney and the state child welfare agency if they are afraid that their child will suffer any harm in the near future, such as from suspected abuse or contempt.
Every situation is unique. Consult an experienced attorney or look through the resources available in your state for comprehensive information about visitation rights and child custody.
Need a Family Lawyer in Scottsdale?
Our experienced family law attorneys will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. Proven trial lawyers in family court, you can trust the firm to represent you fully so you can get on with your life. Call today for your initial consultation. Our family lawyers can help with divorce litigation, collaborative divorce, divorce mediation, child custody, legal guardianship, paternity, prenuptial agreements, and more.