father with child

Divorce is never an easy process, and among the many difficult, painful parts of divorce are the interpersonal and emotional impacts of it on your children. Custody questions are fiercely debated and often heartwrenching for both sides. Child support questions are not far behind in their urgency, and unfortunately, there are times when an ex-spouse may try to deny visitation due to missing child support payments.

Parents put the best interests of their children first; so does the state of New Jersey. Under New Jersey law, the children’s best interests are at the core of several divorce topics, like child custody, visitation, and child support. Given this, can your ex actually deny you visitation rights? Keep reading to learn more, and remember to get in touch with a Sussex County child custody attorney for information and guidance on divorce and child custody matters.

Can My Ex Deny Custody or Visitation Due to Not Paying Child Support?

Before we discuss child support, we’ll need to talk briefly about child custody. As we’ve mentioned, New Jersey law is focused on the best interests of the child, and it considers that a child’s best interest is to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents. Because of this, courts care deeply about both parents having time with their children post-divorce.

Typically, one parent is granted physical custody, meaning that the child lives with and is taken care of primarily by that parent. That parent is known as the custodial parent or, in New Jersey, “parent of primary residence.” The other parent, the non-custodial parent or the “parent of alternative residence,” will be allowed as much visitation time as appropriate while still making sure the child is safe. During their divorce negotiations, parents will outline a parenting plan that documents how much visitation time the non-custodial parent will have.

Now we can discuss child support. It is payment from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent for the care of the child. Child support is not linked to visitation, though many people mistakenly think it is linked. Child support does not determine someone’s parental rights to spend time with their child. Hence your ex cannot refuse your visitation time with your child because you missed child support payments. Instead, a custodial parent who has not received timely child support payments must report that to the New Jersey child support payment agency at the New Jersey Department of Human Services.

There are cases where New Jersey courts deny a parent visitation rights, but child support payment is usually not the main issue when such cases arise. Parental visitation is more frequently limited when the court has concerns about drug abuse or domestic violence.