Southern California Family Law

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Southern California Family Law

Withholding Child Visitation for Failure to Pay Child Support

Custody - October 27, 2020

Withholding Child Visitation for Failure to Pay Child Support

When the noncustodial parent fails to pay child support to the custodial parent to help cover the expenses of a child, it can be an incredibly frustrating experience. One common question asked in this scenario is whether the custodial parent can withhold visitation until the child support is paid in full. While the experienced California family law attorneys at Simpson Law Group understand the aggravation of the situation, a parent withholding child visitation is not allowed on the basis that child support is outstanding. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options for collecting past due child support.

Why Can I Not Withhold Visitation?

According to California law, child support and child custody/visitation are two separate and distinct legal issues. As such, a parent cannot use one to compel action on the other. A parent does not earn the right to see their child by paying support, and the child’s right to continue their relationship with the noncustodial parent should not be impaired by a failure to pay financial support. Furthermore, withholding visitation from the noncustodial parent could ultimately damage the custodial parent’s rights to their child. A consideration of the court in fashioning child custody and visitation orders is whether a parent is promoting frequent and continuing contact with the other parent.  If visitation is withheld, whether on the basis of nonpayment of support or for another reason, the noncustodial parent could take the issue to court and seek a modification of the existing custody arrangement.

Options for Collecting Support

For public policy reasons, child support is of paramount importance in the State of California and the court treats this issue seriously.  If the noncustodial parent is not paying child support, there are legal options for collection and enforcement of the court’s order. One of the most common methods is income withholding or wage garnishment. In this scenario, the court orders the noncustodial parent’s employer to withhold a percentage of each paycheck and send it to the custodial parent to cover the cost of child support. 

The judge in your case can also hold a noncustodial parent in contempt of court, which can include additional fines and possible jail time until the child support arrears are paid. A party filing contempt can also seek attorney’s fees and costs for having to bring the contempt action.  

As a result of nonpayment of child support, the noncustodial parent’s driver’s license may be revoked, professional licenses suspended, and other civil penalties accrued until the support is paid.  

Questions About Withholding Child Visitation?  Contact Us Now.

As frustrating as the situation is, you should never deny the other parent visitation with their child if they are behind in child support payments. To learn more about your legal options for repayment, call or contact the Simpson Law Group in Glendale today to schedule a consultation of your case.  

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