When parents divorce, child support and child custody can be very contentious issues — and those issues can keep cropping up long after the divorce is final.
Many people have misguided notions, however, about how child support and child custody or visitation relate. Let’s take a look at the reality of the situation.
Custody and visitation can influence how much child support is paid
How much physical custody each parent has of the child can affect how much child support needs to be paid.
If one parent has primary physical custody of the child, the non-custodial parent can generally expect to pay more support. When parents share physical custody, however, that support amount will go down. In New Jersey, whenever a child spends 28% of their overnight time (104 nights out of the year) with the non-custodial parent, that can trigger the shared parenting calculation that will likely lower the non-custodial parent’s financial obligation.
In that respect, custody and visitation are deeply tied to support obligations.
Custody and visitation are not dependent on payment of child support
There’s a disconnect, however, between child support and parenting time in that a custodial parent cannot make the non-custodial parent’s visitation time dependent on payment of support.
In other words, if a non-custodial parent stops paying their child support for some reason, the custodial parent does not have the authority to withhold access to their child. Instead, they would have to try to address the default through an enforcement action. If they do otherwise, they could put their own custodial rights in danger.
Knowing how to navigate a parenting time or child support dispute can be critical to your future relationship with your child, so make sure that you seek some experienced guidance when you have problems.