August 23, 2012

Can I deny my ex visitation if they are behind on support payments?

While visitation is a child custody issue and therefore separate from child support, many custodial parents see them as intertwined. For instance, parents may think it is unfair that a parent who fails to make child support payments is allowed to spend significant time with his or her children and may be tempted to deny that parent their visitation rights. However, family law experts say that this behavior is not only bad etiquette, but is also against the law.

Michigan law does not permit custodial parents who are not receiving owed child support to deny non-custodial parents their court-ordered visitation rights. While the two concepts often seem related, they are considered legally distinct. Forbidding a child see his or her parent just because of missing or delinquent child support payments does not typically represent a child’s best interests. Experts say that child support should never negatively affect a child, and parent should avoid discussing such matters with their children. Custodial parents who still believe it is unfair for a non-paying parent to be allowed to spend time with his or her children should take the issue up with a Michigan family court, possibly seeking a child custody modification.

A non-custodial parent with insufficient economic means to make payments may request a modification to lower his or her monthly obligation. While this may make the custodial parent frustrated or angry, it is important for such individuals to always put their children first. Some child support benefits a child more than no child support.

At the end of the day, if either camp is concerned, it may be beneficial to speak with legal counsel experienced in family law matters. Having an advocate on your side as to how to seek a modification or pursue delinquent child support can help add guidance and understanding to the situation.

Source:, “Ex-Etiquette: Child support and visitation should be separate, “Jann Blackstone, Aug. 13, 2012