MamaTo3 - posted on 07/26/2012 ( no moms have responded yet )
I have read a few posts about this and I have pretty strong opinions about it myself. Being that it is a very hot topic around COM in groups that may be more biased to one side or the other, I thought what better place to open the discussion than a debate group! The question is: Should visitation be withheld from a non-custodial parent who is NOT paying child support?
When I encountered this question on another board I had quite a bit to say about it, so I will simply copy my response below to start off this discussion with my personal view on the matter and anyone else can respond from there:
Child support and visitation are completely separate issues in most places and there is a very good reason for that. Assuming the father is not abusive (since the OP I was responding to had not stated such) withholding visitation punishes TWO people, not one- your ex AND your child. A child desperately needs a relationship with their father, and that relationship is between the two of them, and not for the mother to come between or dictate. If daddy has been physically involved and you interfere with that, your child will miss that relationship that was clearly there before and wonder on some level what happened. When the questions come you of course have options. You can say nothing, i.e. play dumb, leaving your child to simply feel abandoned by someone they love, and hurt and confused as to the whys. You can lie, which your child will almost definitely figure out eventually and resent you. Or you can tell your child the truth, that you are basing his/her relationship with their father on money, putting him/her in the middle, causing him/her to shoulder the emotional burden of finances alongside you...finances that your child will at some point feel is a direct result of him/herself, and feel unfairly guilty and torn between loyalties to each parent. Any psychologist in the world would likely tell you that parents have NO business talking to the child about child support and where or how the other parent falls short. That other parent is part of the child's identity. And where there is no mistreatment, no parent has any business coming between a child's relationship with the other parent. A child is not a financial investment from which you "reap the benefits" (as someone else worded it) because you sent a check. That child is entitled to an opportunity at a healthy relationship with BOTH parents. Should daddy be forced to help provide for his child? Absolutely! Should mom use the only "leverage" she has—the child—to punish dad, also inadvertently punishing said child? Never! That child needs a relationship with their father and it is not their fault if the father isn't paying. The child shouldn't be made by one parent to pay for what the other parent does wrong. Withholding visitations (when the child is not being harmed) is NOT in your child's best interest emotionally, nor is it fair to your child. Please consider this point, for your child's sake. Whether or not dad "deserves" to reap the benefits of spending time with a child he's not financially supporting, the CHILD deserves a relationship with their father. I have seen a couple situations like that, up close and personal, and the emotional damage caused to the child is extensive, when the person the mom was really trying to hurt was the dad. Child support can and should be enforced (or perhaps modified, if necessary) by the COURTS.
I would also venture to flip the details and ask ultimately the same question from the other side:
I have come across many stay at home single moms, who live off nothing more than their child support checks and any family and/or government help they can get. So in those cases, should custody be taken from mom and sole legal and physical custody be given to the dad with no visitations for the mom? I mean the mom technically isn't contributing one cent of her own money to support her child...why should she "reap the benefits" of getting to spend everyday with her child, right? Based on this logic, any single stay at home mom should have her children taken away and not be allowed visitation since she is not working to pay for them. Absurd. Just food for thought...