When parents decide to get a divorce, they will often have a child custody and visitation agreement submitted to a California family court judge who will need to approve the legally binding document. Later, it's not uncommon for a parent to get angry when their ex-spouse is not paying their child support and start thinking about not letting them see their children.
In the event when one of the parents refuses to follow the child court order, such as withholding visitation for not paying child support, then they are in violation of a court order.
If there are any issues with a child visitation schedule, they have to be dealt with through the family court system. If a parent's child visitation schedule has been intentionally disrupted, they can petition the court with the assistance of a family lawyer.
Two separate issues
In California, child support and child visitation are two completely separate issues. In other words, if a parent does not pay their child support, the other parent can't deny visitation.
In some California divorces, parents are just not able to get along or even work together as co-parents. This situation worsens when one parent is not keeping up with their child support payments. Thus, custodial parents often feel they are justified to:
- deny parenting time, or
- refuse to reschedule any missed parenting time.
There are custodial parents who firmly believe that if their ex-spouse is not upholding their legal responsibility to pay child support, their decision to not allow visitation with the kids is totally justified. Put simply, this is not true under California law.
Our Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys are providing a more detailed review below.
Denying Court-Ordered Child Visitation is Against the Law
California child visitation agreements and court orders are legally binding. In situations where one parent believes the other is not sticking to the plan, they feel justified in denying parenting time.
On the flip side, the parent who is denied visitation feels they are justified to stop making child support payments altogether in retaliation.
These actions only make the situation worse, and before long both parents are firmly dedicated in their defiance while the children are used as pawns.
You need to remember the connection between child support and child visitation in the state of California:
- not making child support payments is against the law, and
- withholding court-ordered visitation is also against the law.
If you find yourself in a situation where your ex-spouse refuses to allow you visitation time with the kids, then you should make contact with a family law attorney.
You must consider what is in the best interest of the children, which California family courts fiercely protect. If you intentionally negatively affected your own children, then you should expect the judge to come down hard on you.
Common Reasons a Custodial Parent Denies Visitation
In spite of the personal relationship between parents, a custodial parent should not deny child visitation with the other parent for any reason.
Often, a custodial parent might withhold visitation in retaliation due the actions of the other parent, but they typically don't stop and consider how it affects the children.
Here are a few common reasons custodial parents deny child visitation with the non-custodial parent:
- non-custodial parent has fallen behind on child support payments;
- non-custodial parent is failing to follow child visitation schedule;
- custodial parent believes the other is an unfit parent;
- custodial parent believes the other parent is attempting to alienate the children against them during visitation time;
- custodial parent wants revenge for a divorce they didn't want;
- custodial parent is acting in retaliation for behavior of other parent.
Regardless of the situation, there are not typically any valid legal reasons to deny child visitation from the non-custodial parent.
If there are issues with the parenting plan, the custodial parent can't simply take matters in their own hands and withhold visitation.
They should attempt to resolve any issues through the California family court system after getting legal advice from an experienced divorce and family law attorney.
What if Non-Custodial Parent Falls Behind on Child Support Payments?
A custodial parent can't withhold child visitation for any reason. This includes a situation where the non-custodial parent is behind or has even stopped paying child support.
The court-ordered visitation plan is still valid and should be followed. The custodial parent should take the issue of unpaid child support to the court.
A parent simply can't refuse the other parent visitation with their children because they are behind on paying child support.
If fact, if the custodial parent consistently denies visitation, the family court has the discretion to transfer child custody over to the other parent.
On the flip side, a non-custodial parent can't withhold paying their child support obligation if the other parent is not allowing visitation for other reasons.
What to do about unpaid child support
Parents often ask about what they can do about unpaid child support. Contact the child support office to make a report. They can apply sanctions like:
- wage garnishment,
- intercept unemployment compensation,
- suspend driver's license,
- pursue criminal charges.
Don't attempt to handle the situation on your own. Parents need to get help from an experienced California family law attorney to petition the court for enforcement of the parenting plan.
Family Law Attorneys for California Child Visitation Issues
If you need additional information over issues of being denied visitation with your children, call our experienced child custody attorneys to review the details.
We have assisted many parents in finding a favorable resolution to their child custody case.
Furman & Zavatsky are top-ranked Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys who represent people throughout all Southern California courtrooms, including Orange County, Ventura County, Kern County, Santa Barbara County, Riverside, and San Bernardino.
Our office is located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County. Our law firm address is 17207 Ventura Blvd. #2 Encino, CA 91316
We offer Zoom video conferences and phone consultations for your convenience.
We offer a free case evaluation to discuss the details of your case at (818) 528-3471.