In Katz v. Katz, the Appellate Division considered whether a father’s obligation to pay child support could be suspended because the mother interfered with his visitation.
The general rule is that under New York law a noncustodial parent’s access to a child and his or her obligation to pay child support are separate issues. The court can require a parent to pay child support and also deny the parent visitation. If a custodial parent refuses to allow the noncustodial parent access to the child, the noncustodial parent should petition the court for custody or visitation. If there is a custody or visitation order in place and the custodial parent does not allow the noncustodial parent access to the child as required by the order, then the custodial parent is violating a court order. The aggrieved parent should take up the matter with Family Court. The remedy is not for the noncustodial parent to simply withhold child support. If the custodial parent is willfully interfering with visitation, upon petition the court may suspend or even cancel the noncustodial parent’s obligation to pay child support.
In Katz v. Katz, upon the couple’s divorce, the mother was awarded physical custody of the couple’s children. The father was awarded visitation. The father was also ordered to pay child support in the amount of $10,000 per month. The father petitioned the court to suspend his obligation to pay child support because the mother was not permitting him to have access to the children as required by the custody order. He also requested a recoupment of the child support that he had already paid. In support of his petition the father alleged multiple incidents in which the mother interfered with his parenting time and denied him telephone contact with the children. The mother responded by filing a motion to dismiss.