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If my spouse isn't paying support, can I deny visitation?

When a noncustodial parent fails to meet a support obligation, they're not only in violation of the law, they're creating an incredibly problematic situation for the custodial parent as well. Not only does the custodial parent have to deal with the financial burden of supporting a child on a single income, they must also address the legal issue at hand.

In Maryland, custodial parents have several options when it comes to enforcing a child support order. From wage garnishment to driver's license suspension, there are many ways that the state can assist custodial parents to obtain the payments they need to adequately provide for their child. But among these options, is denying visitation a viable way to force the noncustodial parent to pay up? The answer is no, and here's why.

Whether an individual lives here in Columbia or elsewhere in Maryland, custody agreements legally bind the custodial and noncustodial parent to the terms of the court order. By denying visitation, a custodial parent would be violating the court order, thereby putting themselves at risk of a civil action brought by the noncustodial parent. Punishment for violating an order may include a misdemeanor charge if the parent remains within the state with the child, though charges may escalate to a felony if the parent leaves the state.

So while it's never a good idea to violate a child support order, it's also a terrible idea to violate a custody arrangement too. Our readers who are parents should keep this in mind and remember to seek legal representation instead of taking actions into your own hands.

Sources: The People's Law Library, "Child Custody in Maryland," Accessed Jan. 26, 2016

The People's Law Library, "Enforcement & Collection of Child Support," Accessed Jan. 26, 2016

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