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Child Support Payments and Visitation Rights

After getting a Pasadena divorce, parents often find themselves with questions about the relationship between child support and visitation.

Obviously, parenting involves more than just paying for a child's financial needs. Being present for the child at birthday parties, school activities, and other events is important too. This is why the courts generally have visitation agreements written out as part of a divorce settlement. However, child support is not linked to child visitation.

A non-custodial parent is not "paying" for the right to see his or her child. A custodial parent can not refuse to grant court-ordered visitation if the non-custodial parent is behind on child support payments. The courts believe that a child has a right to a meaningful personal relationship with both parents, even if the non-custodial parent has fallen behind on child support payments. Penalties exist for parents who fail to pay child support, such as denying a driver's license, withholding income tax refunds, or revoking a professional license. The key is that these punishments are designed to affect the parent -- not an innocent child who is essentially caught in the middle of a tough situation.

The length of time a child spends with each parent is a factor in the amount of child support that is ordered by the court during a divorce settlement. If the parents have joint custody, but one parent has the child 75% of the time, this would be a factor in determining the level of child support that is necessary. But once the court decides, you can't make your own adjustments based on changes agreed upon between you and your spouse. For example, it would be against the law to deduct money from a legally ordered child support payment on the basis that you voluntarily agreed to care for the child for an extra week that particular month.

Enlisting the help of a Pasadena family law lawyer with experience in child support cases is very important if you are having trouble making child support payments or you are not receiving the child support you are legally entitled to. Most lawyers provide a free initial consultation where you can get a sense of whether a particular attorney is the best choice to provide the legal representation you need.

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