May Visitation or access be withheld from a non-custodial parent if that parent fails to pay child support in Maryland?
No, not under Maryland law. The obligation to pay child support is separate and distinct from a parent’s right to visitation and access with one’s child. If there is an order to pay child support, the custodial parent can file an action in cointempt to force the noncustodial parent to pay child support. Hoiwever, the custodial parent may subject himself or herself to a contempt action of his or her own if he or she refuses to abide by the terms of an agreed upon or court ordered access schedule.
It is tempting when one parent is refusing to honor his or her child-related obligations for the other to enegage in “self help” and hold back visitation and access from the delinquent parent to force that parent’s compliance with the Court Order. Unfortunately, that strategy may end up backfiring on the parent who takes the action.
Sometimes, just the limited intervention of your Annapolis, Maryland family law attorney to remind the other party of the court ordered obligations and the legal consequences of contempt of court is enough to resolve the conflict.
If the other party is particularly stubborn, litigation may be unavoidable, but at least the compliant parent will have “clean hands” and will not be facing any legal action by having denied court ordered visitation.