If You Can’t Pay Child Support, Do You Still Get to See Your Children?

If You Can’t Pay Child Support, Do You Still Get to See Your Children?

Child Support and Visitation

Research suggests that a child benefits from both parents in their life. When a non-custodial parent is involved in the child’s life, he or she is more likely to pay child support. But what happens when a parent gets into arrears? Should the child be taken away from the parent who can’t pay? Child support and visitation are two separate issues in a divorce.

Visitation or Parenting Time 

The judge may issue court orders for both support and parenting time. Parenting time, which is a more modern term for visitation, is a right for both parents. Non-custodial parents should have a right to frequent communication and visits with the child. Of course, those rights can be lost if the parent is abusive to the child or neglects the child.

Child Support 

Child support is the responsibility of parents to provide for the child. Most states calculate child support based on a complex algorithm that takes into account the income of the parent and other factors. The custodial parent cannot simply waive child support, because it is the right of the child. However, it is paid to the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent does not have a right to outline how it is spent. That said, the custodial parent cannot prevent the other parent from not having contact with the child if child support isn’t paid. Conversely, the parent paying child support cannot stop paying child support when he or she isn’t allowed to see the child.

Consequences For Not Paying Child Support 

When a parent doesn’t pay court-ordered child support, his or her rights to parenting time isn’t lost. Some states have legal consequences when the parent doesn’t pay child support, such as wage garnishment, loss of license or even jail time. None of these consequences include not being able to spend time with the parent or losing child visitation rights. The state does have a vested interest in making sure child support is paid. When a child isn’t supported by the parents, state welfare programs may have to step in.

What If You Need a Child Support Modification? 

Child support can be modified by the court if a significant life event occurs, such as losing a job or getting injured and being unable to work. Even though the custodial parent may be agreeable, you can’t simply change a court order. You will have to go to court to have the change made official. Get assistance from a family law attorney, like a child custody lawyer in Arlington, TX, to help you work through the process.


Thank you to the experts at Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, for their contributions to family law.

Greenberg Law Offices