Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Can visitation be withheld if child support is not paid?

When Salt Lake City residents suffer harm because of someone else, it is a natural reaction to want to hold that other party responsible. This is particularly true when an individual is wronged by their ex-spouse after a divorce.

For example, a parent who has custody over the couple's children may feel wronged when the non-custodial parent fails to make monthly payments of child support. The nonpayment of child support can be incredibly difficult to deal with for the custodial parent, who often is having a hard enough time providing for the family even when payments are timely made.

Accordingly, it is entirely natural to want to hold the non-custodial parent responsible in some manner for the lack of payment. However, there are certain ways in which this should be accomplished, and certain ways in which it should not.

Often times, custodial parents may desire to enact retribution by withholding the non-custodial parent's visitation time with the children if child support payments are not made. This is not permitted under Utah law, however, because child support payments and parenting time concern two different aspects of the law that are not as intertwined as they may appear at first blush. Custodial parents cannot withhold the non-custodial parent's visitation rights under the law. If they do, there may be penalties that could be enforced by the court against the custodial parent.

Custodial parents should understand these requirements under the law. At the same time, this does not mean they are without options when child support is not paid. There are a number of ways in which the law provides methods of child support enforcement to go after the non-custodial parent. These methods should be pursued when appropriate to get child support paid and enforce the court's orders.

Source: Utah Courts, "Child support," accessed on March 5, 2016

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