Can You Deny Access Because the Other Parent is Not Paying Child Support?

child in child support and child access dispute

There are several factors that judges consider when deciding how much a parent should see a child.  Whether a parent is paying child support is NOT one of them. In fact, a parent denying access for anything other than safety concerns can get that parent into trouble with the court.   Child support and access are separate issues.


If you want to make sure a parent pays child support, the best thing to do is to negotiate an enforceable separation agreement and file it with the Court for enforcement or get that parent to agree to a court order for child support.  If that order sets out a specific monthly (weekly, bi-weekly or annual) amount then the Family Responsibility Office will collect the support.  However, an agreement that says the other parent will pay certain expenses in lieu of child support is not as good as an agreement (or court order) that says that parent will pay you a specified amount of money that covers those expenses because the Family Responsibility Office will only collect amounts of money that are clearly set out in a court order or separation agreement. When a parent does not pay the support that is set out in an order or agreement, the Family Responsibility Office can garnish that parent’s pay and bank accounts, take away his or her driver’s licence, or even put that parent in jail.


For a discussion of child support, and parents avoiding child support, listen to this episode of the Ward and Al Show.


For a more complete discussion of child support, listen to this podcast, or watch this video.

The Guide to The Basics of Ontario Family Law

This question shows how issues in Family Law can seem to intersect and be related.  Sometimes they are and sometimes they are not. Confusing what issues are related and what ones are not can get you into trouble.  If you want a resource that covers all the main topics of family law, and provides some advice as to how to succeed in getting what you want in or out of court, get a copy of this  $20 easy-to-understand book on Ontario Family Law.  



Your best option, especially for tricky issues such as this one, is to speak to a good family lawyer who will give you advice specific to your specific circumstances and give you (or your girlfriend) a plan to solve your problems.  Contact Certified Specialist in Family Law, Toronto Divorce Lawyer, John Schuman, at 416-446-5080, or by email, or using the contact form below.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle

Comment on this article using the form below.  And, share it on your social network using the buttons at the bottom of this page.  Sharing this article helps get this information to your friends, colleagues and acquaintances who need to know about what to do in this situation.


Bruce Eden - Independent Legal Services Professional

Contrary to what the courts in the US (and Canada) say, child support is linked to access. The US Supreme Court has ruled that a parents RIGHT to the care, custody and nurture of their children has a CORRESPONDING, RECIPROCAL duty of supporting the child(ren) financially and emotionally.

David Hooton - Father to two amazing girls

If you deny the children access to either parent then you are an abuser and the lowest form of humanity. This goes for either parent male or female or Judge.

Bruce Eden - Independent Legal Services Professional

Correct. It is emotional, psychological and physical child abuse. The emotional, psychological beat-down of the child results in physical stress on the child. Parental alienation is a form of child abuse combining all 3 types of child abuse.

Lillian LaRosa - Attorney at LaRosa/Toland Law Offices

While both parents have a duty to provide financial support, Massachusetts does not link the two issues of access and financial support and those who deny access may lose custody.

Bruce Eden - Independent Legal Services Professional

What happens if the one parent falls behind in child support and is in arrears, files for a custody modification or parenting time support, and the other parent then files for enforcement of child support with contempt? Does the person filing the enforcement, but denying access, lose custody? Because that's usually the defense. The parent denying access may have been doing it for a while, yet once the paying parent falls into arrears, usually for job loss or disability, he runs the threat of being deprived of his children AND his Liberties

Lillian LaRosa - Attorney at LaRosa/Toland Law Offices

I think the general public is becoming more aware of the need to file for Modification of Child Support in the event of job loss or disability if the unemployment or workers compensation benefit would support a reduction.

Bruce Eden - Independent Legal Services Professional

No. My question involves the fact that if the payor parent is in arrears (whether small or large) because of job loss or disability, the payee parent will try and use this as excuse to deny access of the child(ren) to the payor parent, saying if he isn't paying he's not going to see the children. When the payor parent goes in to enforce his parental rights, the other parent will file a motion to enforce the support and arrears, usually seeking a contempt charge. This is mixing the support and parenting time issues, but the payee parent, usually with custody or primary residential, never gets sanctioned for combining the issues

Padraig Cullinane - Independent Law Practice Professional

Well, access to children and payment should never be traded off one for the other, in time hopefully the access parent will realise the need to support his/her children. It's a difficult situitation, but saying no payment = no access will only make matters worse for the most part.

Barton Resnicoff -  Law Office of Barton R. Resnicoff

In NY, they are also separate issues and dealt with separately, with one exception. Children need a roof over their heads, clothing, food and other necessities. They also need a relationship with both parents. If the non custodial parent does want to pay child support, the Court system will set a child support amount and collect it or he/she will have significant enforcement problems. On the other hand, a custodial parent has an affirmative obligation to encourage a relationship with the other parent. Failure to do that could be basis for a change in custody or, in extreme cases, a reason to suspend support(the one exception).

Robin Yeamans - Law Office of Robin Yeamans

Under Calif law, they are separate, and she must allow visition. But she should get a support order and a wage assignment so his employer pays her directly.

Jerry Reiss - Actuary at EBC

Tradeoff what was done in the 70s in a number of states. Not sure if it was law but it sure was judges did then. There is no trade off in Florida since 1993 when I began doing expert witness work.

Joe Lewis - Founding partner, Port City Legal

Maine considers these separately, also.

Emily Gosnell - Independent Legal Services Professional and trial attorney in family, criminal, traffic matters, social security

All I can tell you is what the law is in NJ. We view child support and visitation as separate issues. Just because he isn't paying support absolutely does NOT authorize the client to deny visitation. Many of my clients have been outraged by my explanations, but our case law is clear. Indeed in a really bad case change of custody can result from visitation denials. I understand the custodial parent's frustration, but they have to comply or else disaster can result.

Tatiana Terekhova, Divorce Financial Analyst - President & Founder at FAIRSPLIT Inc., Milton, Ontario

Financial Professional at Peel Halton Collaborative Family Law Practice Group

Thank you for always choosing such hot topics.

Janneke LewisLawyer and human rights advocate at North Shore Law LLP, North Vancouver, British Columbia

There is no connection between child support and access here in BC - and there should be no connection. Each parent has an obligation to support their children. Get a court order for support and register the order with the Family Enforcement authority. Paying support is not a choice.

© John P. Schuman 2014