When a parent interferes with or prevents the other parent from having
visitations with a child, the noncustodial parent (“obligor”
or person who owes a duty of support) is required to continue paying
child support. Even though a custodial parent may be interfering with
child visitations, a noncustodial parent cannot use parental interference as a defense to
paying their own child support obligation.
Under California law,
Family Code Section 3556 makes it clear that parental interference with child visitations has no
effect on the child support obligation and each issue should be treated
California Family Code Section 3556, specifically provides as follows:
“The existence or enforcement of a duty of support owed by a noncustodial
parent for the support of a minor child is not affected by a failure or
refusal by the custodial parent to implement any rights as to custody
or visitation granted by a court to the noncustodial parent.”
There is sound policy behind this rule. Unfortunately, parents can do hurtful
things to each other during a contested
divorce or child custody matter. If a parent makes the decision to unjustifiably
withhold visitations, then a child should not be left without support
simply because of that parent’s bad behavior.
If you are facing a situation where the other parent is withholding visitations,
there are options to consider. Rather than taking matters into your own
hands and withholding child support payments, the noncustodial parent
can enlist the services of a local child support agency. If the custodial
parent has gone missing with the child, the local child support agency
may be able to help locate the missing parent and child while continuing
to make child support payments through the agency or by making direct
deposits into a trust account for the benefit of the child. In addition,
a divorce lawyer from Castellanos & Associates, APLC can discuss with
you the possibility of modifying an existing child custody and child support order.
Therefore, you should always continue making child support payments in
spite of another parents wrongful conduct. “Two wrongs don’t
make a right” under California law and you don’t want to suddenly
find yourself in the middle of a contempt proceeding for failure to pay
child support. Child support and visitations are independent rights for
the benefit of the child, not the parent. This benefit cannot be defeated
by the conduct of any one parent. Furthermore, a noncustodial parent will
not be able to use parental interference as a defense in support of their
own failure to pay a child support obligation in California.
Lastly, if you are dealing with a parent who is intentionally concealing
their whereabouts, child concealment may act as bar to liability for child
support arrearages under limited circumstances. However, it’s not
wise to take matters into your own hands and stop making your child support
payments. Instead, you should first obtain guidance from a divorce lawyer
from our office to explore all of your options under California law.
If you need help with a divorce, child custody or child support matter,
contact a Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer and
request a FREE initial consultation at (323) 655-2105. We look forward to helping you!