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Child support and child custody are separate family law issues

Some parents in Minnesota are faced with financial problems when it comes to their custody arrangements with an ex-spouse. When visitation is awarded to one parent, child support is commonly put in place. However, divorced parents are often confused about this co-existence, sometimes failing to recognize the distinctions between these separate family law issues. Whether you are the parent awarded primary custody or the non-custodial parent awarded visitation, it is important to understand your parental rights in these roles and how child support interacts with these roles.

The courts see child support and child custody as different issues because each issue results in an order that details the rights and obligations of each parent. For example, child support dictates a parent's financial obligations despite parenting rights, abilities and experiences. On the other hand, child custody orders are focused on the best interests of the child and protecting these interests based on various factors in the matter.

A major reason why these issues remain separate is because the courts don't want parents to link access to their child with being up-to-date with child support payments. While repercussions could result when and if a parent is delinquent with child support obligations, this will not impact a parent's ability to exercise visitation rights. In some cases, courts may even recommend generous visitation schedules or even award shared custody despite a parent with child support obligations not being up-to-date.

The same is true for parents not showing up for their scheduled visitation. Child support obligations are not influenced on whether a parent adheres to visitation plan in place. Thus, when parents are dealing with issues regarding visitation or child support, these need to be handled separately and not as if they exist as one issue.

Dealing with family law issues, such as those surrounding child support or child custody, can be challenging. If a parent is dealing with one or both of these issues, it is important that they understand how best to solve these problems.

Source:, "Child Support, Visitation & Parental Rights," Debrina Washington, June 21, 2017

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