According to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, approximately 27% of custodial parents do not receive the full amount of child support owed to them.
This raises an important question: how does owing child support affect child custody arrangements?
Child support and custody
Child support and custody are two distinct but interrelated aspects of parental responsibility. Courts consider the financial support provided by the non-custodial parent key to a child’s welfare.
When a parent falls behind on payments, it can raise concerns about their commitment to fulfilling their parental obligations.
When a parent consistently fails to meet their child support obligations, the court may reevaluate the custodial arrangement to ensure that the child’s best interests are being met.
In some cases, non-payment of child support can result in a modification of custody. The custodial parent may gain more decision-making authority.
Best interests of the child
Courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making custody determinations. They consider factors such as the child’s emotional and physical well-being, stability and the willingness of each parent to foster a healthy relationship between the child and the other parent.
A judge may interpret owing child support as a reflection of a parent’s commitment to their child’s welfare.
Communication and cooperation
Maintaining open lines of communication and a willingness to cooperate with the other parent is important.
A judge may consider a parent who consistently falls behind on child support payments to be uncooperative or uncommunicative. This can potentially influence custody.
If a parent struggles to meet their child support obligations due to financial problems, they should take proactive steps.
Engaging with state support resources or notifying the appropriate authorities about changes in financial circumstances can show a genuine commitment to fulfilling parental responsibilities.
Owing child support can indeed have a significant impact on child custody arrangements. Courts focus on the best interests of the child and view financial support as a main component of a parent’s responsibility.