This is the next post in my series discussing how the Brevard County Courts deal with Melbourne parents who do not pay their child support. My last post explained why one may not reduce their child support payments without Court approval. It is important to ask the Court for a modification to the payment amount if one has experienced a reduction in income rather than try to ‘work something out’ with the payee. Doing so will protect a person against claims of non-payment. In this post I will explain why the payee cannot withhold child visitation as an ‘incentive’ to make the other parent catch up on payments.
Child support and child visitation are considered separate parts of a Court’s Order. A Court Order is a legal mandate that the parties must follow or else they will face consequences. If a parent ceases to pay their ordered child support then this is a violation of the Court Order. However, if the other parent responds by withholding visitation then that parent is now also in violation of an order and is equally in the wrong. A parent who is owed child support does not have the legal authority to terminate a parent-child relationship as a punishment for the other’s financial negligence. This means that the noncustodial parent who owes child support can drag the custodial parent back into Court and demand that the visitation schedule be followed.
Beyond the fact that withholding visitation is not legal, it is also not within a child’s best interest. Visitation is set because the Family Court strongly believes that a child is best served when both parents are an active part of that child’s life. In most cases a child actively benefits from having a relationship with the noncustodial parent – even if that parent might have a lifestyle that is not suitable to raising a child full time. In some cases this may mean that the noncustodial parent has certain struggles that involve holding a job, managing finances, or being financially responsible.
It is understandable for the payee to be frustrated with a noncustodial parent who is not providing their fair share of financial assistance. However, it generally only burdens a child to be made aware of any financial disputes between parents. If two parents can keep their financial disputes and arrangements separate while encouraging the child to have a positive relationship with each parent, the child will prosper.
If a parent is not paying their child support then do not take matters into their own hand. Your lawyer can seek a contempt order from the Court. Contact my office today to speak with a Melbourne child support attorney. My office also services clients in the Brevard County cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.