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Child support enforcement and visitation disparities

For Pennsylvania fathers who have gone through a divorce or ended a relationship with the mother of their children, it can seem as though the law is stacked against them. On one hand, should they encounter difficulties making their child support payments, a wide range of negative consequences could follow. Fathers can face losing their professional licenses, passports or driving privileges if they become delinquent on their child support obligations. In the worst cases, jail time could result.

On the other hand, when fathers are denied their agreed-upon or court-ordered parenting time, there is little help available to rectify the matter. In some cases, the divorce was difficult, and the mother withholds visitation as a method of punishing the father. In other cases, a father's parenting time is simply marginalized in the mind of the mother, and no effort is made to ensure that Dad is afforded easy access to the kids or that his time with them is protected.

Despite being an aggravation, losing access to one's children can result in harm to their well-being. A multitude of studies have shown that children need to spend significant portions of time with both parents. In addition, it is well documented that the involvement of a father can head off many developmental and behavioral problems as kids grow up.

It is important to note that the scenario outlined here can happen to a non-custodial mother, as well. However, in Pennsylvania and across the nation it is still the norm for the mother to retain the majority of custody rights, with the father receiving visitation and an obligation to make child support payments. For fathers facing these types of custodial difficulties, it may be necessary to approach a family court to ask that the custody order is enforced or modified.

Source: Huffington Post, "Disparity Between Child Support and Custody Enforcement," Joseph E. Cordell, May 3, 2013

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