If you are ordered to pay child support the answer is yes. You have to. You pay your child support every month like clockwork. You always take your parent-time (i.e., visitation) with your son. Then, you get a new girlfriend. Your ex doesn’t like her at all and says she won’t have her son around the new girl. So, she doesn’t allow you visits anymore. This sort of thing happens more than you think. Things go well in Utah divorce and child custody situations until they don’t. And when they go bad, they usually go bad hard.
So, how do you deal with it? Your first thought may be to stop paying child support. Makes sense, right? You don’t get to see your son, so why should you have to pay? Yeah, not a good idea. Let me explain why.
First, the legal.
Child support and visitation are two unrelated things in the law. This means if someone doesn’t pay child support, you can’t keep them from parent-time. It also means if someone withholds parent-time, you still owe child support. Legally, one does not depend on the other.
And if you stop paying child support, you are in contempt and the Court will sanction you for your contempt. Sanctions usually include paying attorney fees, and can include jail time. Not good.
Second, the practical.
Children need child support.
Child support never actually covers half the cost of raising a child. Taking away child support usually means there is a severe shortage of funds, which hurts kids first and worst.
You would be using your son as a pawn in a battle between you and your ex.
That’s not fair or good for your son, and it will damage him. You don’t want to screw up things when you file to hold your ex in contempt for refusing your parent-time.
The way you should handle things is to file for contempt of court. (This assumes you have a Utah divorce decree or Utah order of paternity. If you don’t have one of those, then it’s time to start the process.) You’ll be on firm footing. I can guarantee you, however, if you stop paying child support, it will make things much more difficult. The judge won’t like that you stopped paying, and your ex will probably file for contempt against you because you haven’t paid child support.
It leads to an ever-escalating fight.
If you refuse to pay child support, your ex will find new and creative ways to make your life hell. You’ll then retaliate, and so will your ex. It will keep getting worse and worse. Break the cycle.
Please, pay your child support, no matter what.
Don’t stop paying child support. There are other, much more productive, ways to address the problem of not getting your parent-time. Choose the higher ground; you’ll be glad you did.
Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in Utah?
In many families, both parents and children look forward to grandparent visits. Some grandparents provide emotional support or childcare assistance to exhausted parents and shower their grandchildren with attention and love. However, when parents’ divorce or separate, a parent may decide to cut off visits to grandma or grandpa. If you’ve been an involved grandparent, who’s suddenly prevented from visiting with your grandchild, there’s hope.
What is your relationship to the children?
There is legal recourse for grandparents who want visitation with their grandchild. A judge will consider the grandchild’s best interests, among other factors, to determine if grandparent visitation is appropriate. This article provides an overview of grandparent visitation rights in Utah. Grandparent visitation rights aren’t found in the Constitution and there’s no federal law regulating grandparent privileges. Instead, each state has enacted its own laws governing grandparent visitation rights. Grandparent visitation laws vary from state to state, but the U.S. Supreme Court has outlined some basic rules governing grandparent visitation.
In 2000, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Troxel v. Granville. The case challenged the constitutionality of Washington’s grandparent visitation law. The Troxel decision requires a judge to consider a grandchild’s best interests in any case involving grandparent rights. A court must presume that a parent’s prevention of grandparent visitation is appropriate. Finally, a court must consider a parent’s reasons for prohibiting grandparent-grandchild visits. The Troxel case reaffirmed parents’ rights, while still acknowledging that grandparent visitation may be appropriate in some cases.
Grandparent Visitation in Utah
Utah law presumes that a parent’s decision to allow or prevent grandparent visitation is in the grandchild’s best interests. A grandparent seeking visitation must overcome this presumption and prove that grandparent visitation benefits the grandchild. A judge will consider the following factors to determine if grandparent visitation is necessary:
• the grandparent is a fit and proper person to exercise visitation with the grandchild
• the grandchild’s parent has unreasonably limited or denied visitation between the grandchild and grandparent
• the grandchild’s parent is unfit or incompetent
• the grandparent has acted as the grandchild’s caregiver or otherwise had a substantial relationship with the grandchild and a loss of that relationship will harm the child
• the child’s parent has died or become a noncustodial parent through divorce or legal separation
• the child’s parent has been missing for an extended period of time, or
• grandparent visitation serves the grandchild’s best interests.
In one Utah case, the court limited grandparent visitation because it interfered with the mother’s parental rights. The grandchild lived with her father and grandparents following the parents’ separation. The grandparents petitioned the court for visitation after the grandchild’s father passed away. The lower court originally awarded substantial grandparent visitation – 36 hours per month. However, the appeals court determined that the grandparents hadn’t shown that the grandchild would suffer harm if the court denied visitation. The case was reversed and grandparent visitation was cut down to a few hours a month. What this ruling demonstrates is that a grandparent’s visitation rights can’t infringe on parents’ fundamental rights to raise their own children. When balancing a parent’s rights and grandparent visitation privileges, a parent’s rights will always come first.
When can a grandparent obtain custody of a grandchild?
Parents have a constitutional right to raise and care for their children. A grandparent can’t intervene and obtain custody of a grandchild unless the child’s parent is unfit or has voluntarily terminated parental rights.
Specifically, Utah law allows a third party individual, such as a grandparent, to obtain custody when:
• the grandparent has intentionally assumed the role and parental obligations of a parent
• the grandparent and grandchild have a strong emotional bond and parent-child type relationship
• the grandparent has contributed emotionally or financially to the child’s well-being
• the grandparent is not financially compensated for his or her assumption of the parental role
• the grandchild’s best interests are served by continuing the grandparent-grandchild relationship
• the grandchild would be harmed by the loss of the grandparent-grandchild relationship, and
• the grandchild’s parent is absent or has abused or neglected the child.
For example, in one Utah case, a court denied a maternal grandparents’ request for custody. The grandchild’s mother had died and the father had only recently become a part of the grandchild’s life. The court denied custody because the grandparents were unable to show that the father had abandoned, abused, or neglected the child. A parent’s temporary absence isn’t enough for a grandparent to obtain custody of a grandchild.
A grandparent has a heavy burden to prove that the grandchild’s parent can’t meet basic parenting obligations. Utah law assumes that parents act in their children’s best interests and a grandparent seeking custody must show otherwise. A parent must be unfit or missing from the picture before a grandparent can petition for custody of a grandchild.
Can a biological grandparent obtain visitation with an adopted child?
Adoption cuts off a biological parent’s rights to a child, as well as grandparents’ rights. Likewise, if a parent’s parental rights are terminated, a grandparent (the parent’s parent) will also lose any visitation privileges with the grandchild. Some exceptions apply in the case of stepparent adoptions or an adoption by a biological relative.
Specifically, in one Utah case, a judge denied a paternal grandparent’s request for visitation. The grandchild’s father (and grandparent’s son) died before the grandchild was born. Shortly after the grandchild’s birth, the child’s mother relinquished her parental rights and placed the child up for adoption through an agency. Although the paternal grandparents tried to intervene and prevent the adoption, the court determined that they had no standing. The grandparent’s legal rights were terminated upon their son’s death.
Grandparents have visitation rights under Utah law. However, those rights are always secondary to a parent’s rights. In certain situations, a grandparent may be entitled to visitation with a grandchild as long as the visits don’t interfere with the parents’ rights, and they serve the grandchild’s best interests. If you have additional questions about obtaining grandparent visitation with or custody of a grandchild in Utah, contact a local family law attorney for advice.
When can you deny visitation to the non-custodial parent?
In case of a separation or a divorce, one parent is often given more custodial rights of a child than the other.
Such a person is referred to as the custodial parent while the other is known as the noncustodial parent.
Although the custodial parent may have more access to the child, the noncustodial parent may also be given visitation rights.
The court can either allow the two parents to decide on the visitation schedule or it can give directions concerning the visitation hours or days. Child custody attorneys Los Angeles play a big role in the judge’s decision.
Although it’s almost always a guarantee for the court to grant visitation rights to the noncustodial parent, it can also restrict or deny visitation because of various reasons.
One of the common reasons for such denial is if the court believes that the visitation can put the life of the child in danger.
The court can restrict or deny a noncustodial parent visitation grounds on the flowing grounds:
• If the parent has a history of molesting the child
• If the court believes that the parent can kidnap the child
• If the parent is likely to abuse drugs while taking care of the child.
There are also instances where a custodial parent can deny a noncustodial parent with child visitation rights without the court’s knowledge. This is illegal and can lead to serious consequences if the noncustodial parent raises the issue with the family court.
When can you deny visitation to the noncustodial parent?
There are various reasons why you can deny visitation rights to a noncustodial parent. They include the following:
• In case the noncustodial parent is not paying child support
• In case he or she is violent and abusive
• Due to drug or alcohol abuse
• Religious differences
• If the child chooses not to see the noncustodial parent (if old enough).
Is it possible to ask the court to deny child visitation?
Yes, it is possible to deny or restrict child visitation through the court. In fact, it is the best way rather than doing it without the court’s permission.
For example, if you know your ex-wife can harm your child or has a history of molesting him or her, then you can ask the court to deny her visitation rights. However, you need to look for experienced child custody lawyers for fathers to increase your chances of winning the case.
Can a parent lose custody if they deny or restrict another parent from seeing the child?
Yes, it is possible for a parent to lose custody of the child if the deny child visitation without the court’s permission. For instance, if you deny your ex-husband the right to see his child without notifying the court, then the court has a right to take away the child custodial rights from you.
That’s why it is important to seek advice from child custody lawyers for single mothers before you do anything you are not sure of.
In a nutshell, there are various situations when you can deny visitation to a non-custodial parent. For instance, when the parent has refused to pay child support, drug and alcohol abuse, history of molestation among others.
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It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
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