In most cases, child custody, visitation (also known as parenting time) and child support are established at the same time by a judge. Consequently, many parents think that child support is tied to visitation rights. However, child support payment does not affect parents’ visitation rights.
Massachusetts child custody guidelines state that children must be allowed to enjoy the society, love and companionship of both parents to the fullest extent possible. According to the child custody guidelines, judges determine child custody, visitation and support according to the following principles:
- Providing a standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the family been intact
- Encouraging joint parental responsibility in proportion to income
- Recognizing the non-monetary contributions of both parent
In Massachusetts, the amount of child support a parent must pay is calculated according to a uniform formula. The relative income levels of the parents are considered, but the amount of visitation or parenting time a parent has does not affect child support orders.
The amount of child support a noncustodial parent owes only changes when increased or decreased by a court order. It is not affected by the amount of time each parent spends with the child unless there is a complete change in custody or the parents have shared physical custody of the child.
Child Support and Visitation Rights
Importantly, parents’ visitation rights are not affected by whether they have made child support payments or not. Some parents may attempt to refuse or limit visitation until the other parent pays child support. But, parents’ visitation rights may not be removed by the other parent or a court because they are unable to pay child support.
If you have concerns about child support payment or visitation, contact a knowledgeable family law attorney in your area. A lawyer with experience in child custody matters can answer any child support or child custody questions you may have.
Source: Child Support and Visitation, Child Support Guidelines