Can You Get Full Custody If You Owe Child Support?

Many of our clients ask our best child support attorneys in Utah: “If I am behind on my child support payments, how does it affect my child custody and child visitation rights?”

This is the question we have recently received from our reader named Peter. “Greetings Mrs. Cordano. I am trying to get full custody of my child but I owe my ex-wife child support. I cannot deliver the owed payments right away, because I have recently lost my job. Currently, we have the 50/50 child custody agreement but nothing has been established by the court yet. Will my request to modify child custody be denied just because I owe child support? Thank you in advance!”

Can your request to modify child custody be denied because you owe child support?

Thank you for your question, Peter. In theory, child support and child custody are two separate issues which are not connected. To give you a short answer to your question straight away, your request to modify child custody to obtain full custody cannot be denied based solely on the fact that you owe child support.

When it comes to determining child custody in Utah, courts make decisions based on the best interests of the child. But you may have heard stories of parents failing to get full custody because they were behind on child support payments. This is because each case is different and it is advised to speak to a Salt Lake City child support attorney to find out what your legal strategy should be.

Nonetheless, it is fair to say that judges may refuse to give full custody to a parent who owes child support if that parent cannot prove that he or she had not made child support payments for a good reason. In your situation, the loss of a job would qualify as a good reason, which is why the judge will most likely not deny your request to modify child custody simply because you have fallen behind on your child support payments.

Modifying child support in the event of a substantial change in circumstances

Also, given that you have recently lost your job, did you consider modifying the child support agreement? Loss of employment may qualify as a “substantial change in circumstances,” which can help you change the existing child support order (to either reduce or stop these payments altogether).

What many of our readers often ask is whether they can be denied visitation with the child if they fall behind on child support payments. Our experienced child support attorney in Salt Lake City Emy A. Cordano says that generally, child support does not affect your child visitation rights.

Therefore, even if you fail to pay child support, you cannot be denied child visitation. Even though failure to pay child support for a prolonged period of time may eventually lead to modification of the child visitation agreement, visitation can only be changed with the consent of both parents.

In other words, it is highly unlikely that the judge will completely stop visits between you and your child even if you have fallen behind on child support payments. After all, family courts in Utah prioritize the best interests of the child.

However, do keep in mind that failure to make child support payments will most likely lead to other consequences even if your child visitation rights or child custody are not immediately affected. “For example, if you owe child support, your wages may be withheld to pay for the owed support, your credit rating may be negatively affected, and, among other things, your benefits can be used to pay for the owed child support,” warns our Salt Lake City child support attorney.

Are you behind on your child support payments and are worried about the potential consequences? Consult about your particular case by contacting our law offices. Get a legal case evaluation by calling (801) 901-8159 .

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