Children are unique. So is every child support and child custody dispute. Parents in the Rochester area who are involved child support or child custody disputes will require personalized advice and legal assistance from a Rochester family law attorney.

Children in New York are entitled by law to support from each parent until the age of 21. However, if a youth is below age 21 and is married, self-supporting, or in the military, the youth is considered emancipated and the parents no longer have the legal obligation to provide support.

What Are the Numbers Regarding Parents and Child Support Payments?

Sadly, too many parents do not meet their child support obligation. In 2019, CBS News reported that over 30 percent of child support payments ordered by U.S. courts are never made, and less than 50 percent of the payments for child support ordered by the courts are made in full.

After parents divorce in New York, usually, the non-custodial parent is ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent. Also, the non-custodial parent is typically allowed visitation rights.

But if a parent lags behind or just refuses to make child support payments, what happens? Can a custodial parent deny visitation privileges to a non-custodial parent? What’s your recourse if you’re not receiving the child support payments ordered by the court?

If you’ll keep reading, you’ll learn the answers to these questions, and you’ll also learn more about child custody, child support, and visitation privileges in the State of New York.

What Are the Obligations of Parents After a Divorce?

Child support agreements and visitation schedules are usually a part of final divorce decrees in New York. The agreements spell out each parent’s rights and responsibilities.

When a court order establishes child custody, child support, and visitation arrangements, both parents are obligated to comply with that court order. Withholding visitations is a violation of the court order.

If a parent isn’t receiving payments ordered by the court, that parent’s aggravation is natural, but you cannot withhold visitations in response to a lack of child support. For starters, you can’t be sure that preventing the other parent from visiting will generate the payments you need.

How Do the Courts View Visitations and Child Support?

In Western New York, if you are not receiving child support payments that have been ordered by the court, arrange to meet with a Rochester family lawyer who can take the appropriate legal action on your behalf.

Child support and visitation are considered separate and distinct matters by New York’s courts, so the failure to make child support payments has no lawful bearing on the visitation agreement. Before withholding visitations for unpaid child support, consider these legal principles:

  1. Children have the right to spend time with both parents and shouldn’t be penalized because one parent isn’t paying child support. Research shows children are nearly always happier and healthier when they can have a meaningful relationship with each parent.
  2. Both parents are responsible for a child’s financial support. When a court orders the payment of child support, the court – not the child’s other parent – decides on and imposes penalties for failures to make child support payments.

If Safety is Your Concern

If you’re genuinely worried about the safety of your child in the other parent’s presence, your lawyer can help you take appropriate legal steps, but visitation and safety are distinct from the child support issue. If you think visitation should be supervised or ended, speak to your lawyer.

In most cases, courts will only order supervised visitation or suspend visitation entirely if the visiting parent has acted abusively or is engaged in criminal activity, illicit drug use, or alcohol/drug addiction or abuse.

By itself, a failure to make child support payments usually isn’t enough for a court to change the visitation arrangement. A New York family law attorney can explain how you can safeguard your child and restrict or possibly suspend the visitation privileges of your child’s other parent.

How Are Court Orders Enforced?

If you’re not receiving court-ordered payments for child support, don’t withhold visitation. Other remedies are available. The failure to make court-ordered child support payments is a violation of a court’s order. Let your lawyer ask the court to enforce the order for you.

If the other parent of your child is a “deadbeat,” or if you’re not receiving court-ordered child support payments for some other reason, schedule a meeting with a family lawyer. Let the court handle it. Do not violate the court’s visitation order.

Parents who do not make court-ordered child support payments can have their wages garnished, their tax refunds seized, and face an array of financial and legal penalties – including jail on a contempt of court charge.

If Visitations With Your Child are Withheld

Let’s briefly look at the reverse situation. Let’s say that you are a non-custodial parent and visits with your child are being withheld. Don’t stop making child support payments. Instead, take your case to a Rochester family law attorney.

Your attorney can seek to have the court enforce its visitation order. In all such cases, courts make their top priority the child’s best interests. Usually, the courts consider support from and time with each parent to be in the best interests of the child.

Can Court Orders Be Modified?

Courts don’t modify child support orders or parenting arrangements for trivial reasons.

A modification of a custody or child support order will be approved only if a substantial life change has taken place, such as:

  1. One parent becomes unemployed or his or her income significantly changes.
  2. One parent wants or needs to relocate.
  3. One parent was found guilty of a crime and sent to jail or prison.
  4. The child’s needs have changed.
  5. One parent re-marries or becomes a parent again with a new partner.

Don’t Try Acting Alone – Have a Lawyer Help You

If your child’s other parent violates the court order for child support, don’t attempt to make a private arrangement or take matters into your own hands. Unofficial private arrangements and your actions have no legal influence, seldom work, and can’t be enforced.

Your child’s best interests are a parent’s top priority. If you’re not receiving court-ordered child support payments, or if you’re not being permitted to visit your child as scheduled, you’ll need to have the court take action, and you’ll need a family law attorney’s help.