Although many custodial parents are frustrated by the non-custodial parent’s failure to pay child support in a timely manner, or failure to pay child support at all, one thing that the custodial parent may not do in response is withhold or deny the other parent visitation. In Georgia, visitation is not conditioned on payment of child support. Thus, if you are a custodial parent, and your non-custodial co-parent is in arrears on his or her child support obligation, it is not acceptable for you to deny that parent visitation.
Although there are some states that may make the payment of child support contingent upon visitation, or vice versa, Georgia is not one of those states. According to Georgia case law, visitation is not dependent upon the payment of child support. Griffin v. Griffin, 226 Ga. 781, 784 (1970); See also Price v. Dawkins, 242 Ga. 41 (1978); Hagstrom v. Smith, 148 Ga.App. 18 (1978). In fact, if a custodial parent does withhold visitation in reaction to a non-custodial parent’s failure to pay child support, the custodial parent may risk being found in contempt of court for failure to follow the court’s order concerning visitation.
If you are a custodial parent who is unsure how to handle a situation in which the non-custodial parent refuses to pay child support, contact our Atlanta Family Law Team. We would be glad to discuss the options that are available to you like initiating a contempt action against the obligated parent or seeking a garnishment or income deduction order against his or her salary.
By A. Latrese Martin, Associate Attorney, Meriwether & Tharp, LLC