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Court Rules on Whether the Nonpayment of Support Effects Visitation Rights


A couple was married for about five years. A year into their marriage, the wife gave birth to their only child. A New York Family Lawyer said that in the final judgment in the dissolution of their marriage, the mother was given custody of their child. The father was granted visitation rights and based on their monthly income, ordered to pay $150 per month for child support plus $50 per month for the months before the final judgment.

In the year that followed the finalizing of the divorce, each party had brought numerous motions for contempt. The mother claimed the father was not paying child support. The father alleged visitation was being withheld. By December of the year that followed the dissolution, the father filed a petition without counsel to modify the provision for the child support saying because of illness and inability to pay. From what a Westchester Custody Lawyer found out, the father was able to show evidence of his illness and that his income has been reduced to $200 from $800. The $200 was coming from welfare benefits. This being the court still found him in wilful contempt and denied his motion to modify the child support. Part of the ruling was to reduce the child support to $75 each month even if the modification was denied. The court said as well, that visitation should be reinstated if father paid the May child support by May 2, and keeps it current.

Another was order was issued May 5 stating that the visitation is not to happen until he complies with the previous order and shows his child-support payments to be current. There was no record where the court says visitation was terminated, previously. The father appealed for a review of this ruling. He questions the order of the Trial Court where it made the payment of the child support the condition for visitation.

Generally, said the Court of Appeals, visitation is not be denied or changed because of non-payment of the child support. There are some cases however, where if the court finds the willful and intentional refusal to pay the child support affects the child’s welfare negatively, they do terminate visitation. The question now here is the non-payment by the father is wilful and intentional. The Court of Appeals found that the Trial Court recognized the decrease in his income of which showed his inability to pay was not by his choice. They, therefore, reversed the order for terminating visitation.

The court knows that sometimes it is circumstances that prevent a parent from doing their obligation, like in paying child support. Which is why the law has provisions to determine if the parent just did not want to pay such obligation or they cannot. It is still the welfare of the child that is placed first.

There is little doubt that in a divorce case, particularly where there are children involved, emotions run high. These cases can be complex, and involve other issues such as an order for protection, abuse allegations, granparents rights and more. If you are involved in a divorce, it is important to secure legal guidance as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected.

If you are a parent seeking the other to pay child support, or are the one who is unable to, you have available options from the law. Stephen Bilkis and Associates have experienced New York Family Lawyers who will go through the proceedings with you. We have offices in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Manhattan to assist you. We also have offices on Long Island in Suffolk County and Nassau County and Westchester County, Long Island. For legal guidance and a free consultation, call us now at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW.

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