So the mother or father of your child won’t pay child support but still wants visitation. What are your legal options? Can you deny this visitation as a form of payback? And what if you’re the spouse who can’t pay? Will you be denied the right to see your child? Or can you force visitation on the other parent?
According to Texas law, it all comes down to the best interest of your child. Let’s take a few minutes to discuss unpaid child support and visitation rights.
Does not paying child support affect visitation?
There are two different kinds of people who might be asking this question. Either you’re a frustrated parent who is angry because your child’s other parent isn’t doing their part financially, or you are the “other parent” who is struggling to make ends meet but still wants a relationship with your child.
No matter what role you’re playing, here’s what the law says: Visitation cannot be denied simply because the other parent is not paying child support. Visitation and child support are not linked, because visitation is ultimately the right of the child or children. If you take away a parent’s visitation right, you are denying the child an opportunity to have a healthy relationship with that parent.
A quick note on fathers being denied visitation: It’s 2019, but some people still believe that mothers hold more sway in child custody cases than fathers. If you’re a father being denied child visitation, brush up on father’s rights in Texas, child support modification in Texas, and (if you’re really strapped) how to stop child support payments in Texas. These resources answer questions such as “What happens if a father doesn’t pay child support? And “How can a father lose visitation rights?
What if you try to deny visitation because of unpaid child support anyway?
Let’s say you still decide to keep your child from the other parent, and now you’re wondering what could happen. Well, for starters, you could end up in jail or paying a fine to the other parent in an enforcement/contempt action.. Not only does withholding visitation make it look as if you’re making the child pay for the other parent’s financial issues, but you would be violating a court order, too.
If you end up back in court, this could work against you, and the other parent could actually end up with more visitation. That’s great news if you are the parent who has been denied visitation, but bad news if you’re the struggling custodial parent.
Of course, there are ways you can “punish” the other parent for not paying child support. You just need to make sure you’re doing it legally and without hurting your child(ren) in the process.
Keep in mind that withholding visitation isn’t the only mistake you can make with regard to child support. Take a look at these 5 mistakes your child custody lawyer wants you to avoid.
What steps can you take if child support is unpaid?
Since we’ve already answered the question, “Does not paying child support affect visitation?” let’s discuss what you can do. Namely, you can file what’s called “an enforcement,” a proceeding that enforces provisions of a prior court order.
Once you have a child support order (either through a private attorney or through the Attorney General’s Office) each parent has a duty to abide by the order. Once a parent violates that order by not paying a certain amount of money, you can request jail time, a fine, or both in a contempt proceeding in front of the judge. You may also be eligible to receive reimbursement for your attorney’s fees.
Have more unpaid child support questions?
If you’re asking yourself questions like, “Can you force visitation on the other parent?” or “When can a child refuse visitation with the non-custodial parent?” don’t hesitate to contact our team at Thiessen Law Firm. We have decades of combined experience helping the citizens of Houston piece their lives back together, whether they need help with family law or criminal defense.
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