Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.

Considerations regarding child custody and support

Divorce or separation of parents is generally a difficult situation. Many divorcing parents do not always find this easy and, in some instances, cannot agree on child custody terms. To make matters worse, legalize can be confusing at the best of times. When one is involved in a divorce, the different legal terms tossed about may confuse and even overwhelm.

Two important concepts to understand are visitation rights and child support. Although often entangled, these are seen as separate issues by New Jersey law. While the one is a privilege, the other is a duty. Child support is considered a duty of parents, as parents are legally obliged to provide financial support for any children. On the other hand, visitation rights are not a given, but rather a privilege which the court typically grants a non-custodial parent so long as it is consistent with the best interests of the child/ren involved.   

A non-custodial parent must be wary of withholding child support until visitation is allowed, as he or she may find themselves in deep trouble. There are many consequences -- ranging from a revoked driver's license or denied professional license to imprisonment -- potentially resulting from the withholding of child support payments. Orders made by the court regarding child support can be modified by the court in certain circumstances, but payments must be kept up until a new court order has been made.

While it is advisable for visitation agreements to provide specific arrangements, courts may issue an order for "reasonable visitation." Such an order is difficult to enforce, but nevertheless be adhered to. It is advisable not to deny visitation if it has been ordered by the court as the non-custodial parent may have recourse to police assistance, and the custodial parent may even be held in contempt of court.

Parents in New Jersey contemplating divorce may want to consider all the different possibilities when discussing child custody with their divorce lawyers. Agreements reached concerning child support and visitation matters may lead to a less stressful process that is truly focused on the best interests of the children involved. The main aim should be to accommodate the children involved and, in this way, perhaps ensure a happy and healthy childhood.

Source:, "Child Support and Visitation Rights", Jodee Redmond, Accessed on March 21, 2018

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