Can Visitation Be Stopped if Child Support Isn't Paid
If the Obligor Parent Doesn't Pay, Can Visitation Be Stopped?
No. The child support obligation and the right to child visitation are two different issues.
Failure to pay child support is insufficient grounds to stop the right of the obligor parent to visit with his/her child. Visitation is ordered by a court in the best interest of the child, to promote love and affection with both parents, custodial and non-custodial. Child visitation is vital to the non-custodial parent so that a meaningful relationship between child and parent can be established.
On the other hand, child support is based upon the financial needs of the child and the ability of both parents to provide for these needs; thus is treated as a separate issue, and does not have a determinative effect upon visitation. The obligee parent must continue to allow visitation with the child despite failure of the obligor parent to pay child support. Although this may be very hard for the obligee parent to understand, if the obligee parent "frustrates" the right of the obligor parent to visit with the child, the obligor parent could ask the court to change custody of the child based upon this frustration of visitation even though s/he is delinquent in payment of child support.
What if the Obligee Parent Does Not Spend any Money on the Child?
This is a very difficult issue to resolve. One hand, the obligee parent has the right to spend child support money received as s/he sees fit, in the best interest of a child. On the other hand, the obligee parent has the obligation to provide for the best interests of the child. If the obligee parent is derelict in meeting his/her parental responsibilities toward the child, and the child's needs are not being met, s/he could be charged with child abuse or neglect. In extreme cases, this abuse or neglect would be grounds upon which a change in custody, in addition to a change in the obligation to pay child support, would be proper.