As a parent, you have the right to custody of, or parenting time with, your child; and the responsibility to financially support your child. Many divorced or separated parents believe that if a parent fails to pay child support, they are not entitled to see the child; or if they do not have the opportunity to see their child, then they should not have to pay child support.
In formal family court proceedings, a parent’s child support payment record and a parent’s right to see the child are not connected. I have heard many family court judges say that you cannot “buy” the right to see your child. The family court considers parenting time to the child’s right, as much (or more) as it is the parent’s right. The child has no control over whether child support is on time, adequate, or set at too high a level. Regardless of the financial circumstances, the child and the parent have the right to see each other.
When a parent’s access to a child is restricted, it will not be for financial reasons, but reasons of personal safety and well-being of the child. So, in cases in which the parent’s access is restricted, the child is still entitled to financial support. Again, the family court will consider financial support to be the child’s right, regardless of whether the child has regular contact with the non-custodial parent. If one of the parent’s access to the child is restricted for some reason, that is not the fault or responsibility of the child.
Outside of court, parents may use the child as a way of getting money, or use money as a way of getting to see the child. Given that family court is where parents go to appeal to the court to remedy their situation, it is important to know that the family court will not engage in the tit-for-tat concept with child support and parenting time.