In most child custody cases, one parent pays child support to the other parent. When child support goes unpaid, a parent may wonder how that impacts visitation. Parents may wonder if Wisconsin law allows a parent to withhold visitation because the other parent is late on child support payments.
Can a parent withhold visitation because of late child support payments?
No, a parent cannot withhold visitation because of late child support payments. Wisconsin law treats custody/child support as two separate issues. Even if a parent is behind on child support payments, both parties must still follow the court order when it comes to parenting time and visitation. One violation of a court order doesn’t justify the violation of another provision of a child custody order.
The reasoning behind keeping the issues separate is because the law wants the child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. The courts do not believe that it is beneficial to the child to withhold parent time because of support issues. Of course, there are a number of things that the court can do in order to enforce a child support order.
The non-paying parent may face contempt of court proceedings and a number of actions that are intended to bring the parent into compliance with meeting their support obligation. However, withholding parenting time is not a weapon that the courts use in order to enforce support. A parent may move to modify a child custody order if they feel it is no longer appropriate.
Understanding child custody and support issues
When a parent doesn’t comply with any provision of the child custody order, the other parent may petition the court for enforcement. If a parent withholds parenting time, then they are also in violation of the court order. Both parties must continue to comply with the court order provisions for parenting time or petition to change those orders. It’s important to continue to comply with the court order for custody/child support unless and until the court modifies the order.