Can I Gain Custody If I Owe Child Support?
Parents have a duty to provide financial support for their children. Those who are not together ensure this happens through child support. Payments are negotiated through mediation or determined by the courts and recorded in a child support order. What if a parent falls behind on their child support but still wants to play a vital role in his or her child’s life? Can a parent who owes child support receive custody of their child? While it is certainly beneficial to get caught up on support payments, being behind will not prevent you from possibly receiving custody of your child.
Custody and Child Support
Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the child lives. Children can live primarily with one parent or split time equally between both households. In this country, child support and child custody are separate issues under the law. A parent who owes child support is not legally prevented from seeking custody of his or her child. If the parent who is behind in support is otherwise a fit, loving, and willing parental figure, then it is in the child’s best interests to have a relationship with him or her. In some circumstances, it in in their best interests for them to live with that parent primarily.
Missed support should not preclude a good parent from being an active part of his or her child’s life. Just as missed support should not interfere with a person’s right to custody, it is also not a reason for one parent to retaliate against the other or withhold visitation. Similarly, the supporting parent cannot withhold support from the custodial parent if the other parent refuses visitation.
Implications of Non-Payment of Child Support
Not paying child support can still have an impact on your credibility if you are planning to go for custody in the future or somehow modify your parenting plan. It is one piece of the larger puzzle that represents your fitness as a parent. If you lose your job or fall on hard times, it makes sense to get back on your feet and catch up on child support before taking action to pursue custody. Missed support also has legal ramifications. Your county can garnish your wages, seize your property, and even put you in jail for back child support.
Somerville Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Clients with All Types of Child Support Matters
If you are having trouble making child support payments, it may not impact your current custody arrangement. Yet, it can cast a shadow over any custody modifications you hope to make in your future. The Somerville child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. help clients modify child support to make payments more manageable going forward. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. With offices in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.