When parents separate, they often focus on their own rights and, in doing so, they connect the right to child visitation with that of child support. There is often an incorrect belief that either:
- A parent does have to pay child support if he or she does not see the children; or
- A parent can refuse the other parent visits for not paying child support.
However, these two issues are separate, and any rights to child support and visits with a parent are the rights of the children, not of the parents. At law, the focus is on the child’s best interests.
Visitation is your child’s right. A child deserves to continue to cultivate a meaningful relationship with both parents. When a parent does not pay child support, the child should not be being prevented from having a relationship with that parent.
Financial support is the responsibility of each parent. Having little to no relationship your child, whether it is your decision or the result of the actions of the other parent, does not impact a parent’s financial responsibility to support the child and parents who do not regularly see their children must still pay child support.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for one parent to intentionally prevent the other parent from seeing the child where there is a court ordered visitation schedule. Unless there is a risk to the child’s health and/or safety, parents should respect each other’s court ordered parenting time with the child. If you choose to deny the other parent of court ordered parenting time due to safety concerns, you should immediately bring a court application to change the visitation schedule.
Non-payment of child support is not a sufficient reason to deny visitation to a parent. If the other parent is not paying court-ordered child support, you or the Maintenance Enforcement Office should take formal enforcement actions. Non-paying parents may face significant repercussions for ignoring court-ordered child support, including but not limited to seizure of wages, liens on title to your property, and a driver’s license suspension.
If a parent refuses to let the other parent see the child, the parent being denied visitation must still pay child support. If payments are skipped, they will continue to accrue and will not be reduced or eliminated. A parent who is denied visitation should not ignore the harm being done to the relationship with the child and should contact a lawyer to make a court application to enforce court-ordered visitations.
A court may order the other parent to facilitate visits where you prove that the other parent is violating a court order or alienating you and the child. If you prove that the other parent is intentionally alienating you and the child, it may backfire against the other parent and could result in a judge awarding custody to you.
If you need help with a child custody or child support matter, you should contact a lawyer to obtain legal advice on how best to proceed.