If your ex gets behind on paying child support, you might think that they lose their right to visitation. They do not. Nor can you deny your former spouse access to their children because of child support arrears.
Nassau County parents are expected to pay their share of the costs to support the health and well-being of their children. When one parent does not live up to their obligations, the other parent has legal steps they can take to enforce a child support order. They cannot, however, legally violate a visitation agreement.
If you deny a parent their court-ordered parenting time, you could be the one paying the price.
Consequences of Denied Visitation
You are not alone if you have a former partner behind on their child support payments. Only 43% of parents received the full amount of child support due in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More than half of custodial parents receive partial or no payments.
Withholding visitation as leverage for payment can lead to the court penalizing you including holding you in contempt of court. Only the court can modify or end visitation. A noncustodial parent who is delinquent in child support can still seek recourse if they are denied visitation.
The court can impose the following on a parent who denies another their parenting time:
- Impose fines
- Modify visitation to make up for lost time
- Change the visitation schedule permanently
- Require the custodial parent to pay court costs and attorney's fees
In extreme cases, a judge can even send the parent to jail or change which parent has primary custody.
Enforcement Rights of Custodial Parents
A custodial parent can’t unilaterally deny visitation, but that does not mean they don’t have legal avenues to receive child support owed to them. Talk to one of our skilled attorneys at Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C. about the steps you can take.
A child support order signed by a judge is enforceable. The federal Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 gives state attorneys general and state attorneys the authority to collect back support on behalf of the custodial parent. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act of 2008 makes child support orders from one state enforceable in other states.
Enforcement measures against a delinquent parent can include the following:
- Garnish their wages
- Deduct child support for Unemployment Insurance Benefits (if applicable)
- Freeze bank accounts
- Put a lien on other financial assets
- Intercept any federal and/or state income tax refund
- Take lottery winnings
- Suspend their driver’s license
- Suspend a professional license
- Deny password renewals or applications
- Report their child support arrears to the major consumer credit reporting agencies
The delinquent parent can also be held in contempt and sentenced to as much as six months in jail.
Modifications to Child Support
New York child support guidelines provide a framework from which judges determine how much the noncustodial parent must pay monthly to the parent with primary custody. Life can change on a dime. The law understands this possibility and provides a way for parents to request a modification to their child support payments.
Significant life changes can cause parents to fall behind in paying child support:
- Demoted at work
- Lost their job
- Diagnosed with a serious illness
If you pay child support but are struggling to stay current, talk to one of our attorneys about how you can petition to change your child support obligations. Seeking a modification shows that you are not willfully ditching your child support responsibilities.
Legal Counsel for Child Support Enforcement and Modifications
Our team at Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C., focuses solely on family law. Every individual, family, and case is unique. We will listen to your goals and concerns and create a personalized strategy.
If you aren’t receiving court-ordered child support, contact us. We know these crucial funds are necessary for a child’s health and happiness. We are also here to help with petitioning for child support modifications.
Schedule a free consultation by calling (516) 406-8381 or completing our online form. We serve the residents of Nassau County, Suffolk County, and all five boroughs.