Chapter 7: Should visitation denial affect the obligation to pay support?
7. Should visitation denial aﬀect the obligation to pay support? Ira Mark Ellman The imposition of an unjustiﬁed obligation is not as bad if it is not enforced, and failing to impose a justiﬁed obligation is not nearly as consequential if it would not have been enforced anyway. The government’s increasing determination to collect child support obligations over the past few decades has therefore made the substantive law of child support more interesting: the rules and procedures for identifying support obligors, and setting the size of their obligation, now matter much more. One context in which they now matter is the focus of this chapter: should the noncustodial parent’s obligation to contribute to the child’s support be aﬀected by actions of the custodial parent that impair the support obligor’s access to the child? Before the age of enforcement, most support obligors who believed the other parent had thwarted their access to their child could simply stop making support payments. No eﬀective eﬀort to enforce them was likely to follow, regardless of whether the non-payment was in principle legally defensible. That is of course no longer true. And the law’s treatment of the relationship between support and visitation is important in a lot of cases. Studies from the late 1980s and early 1990s found that only a sixth of non-residential parents see their child an average of once a week, and about half had not seen their child at all for at least a year...
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