Child Support and Withholding Custody

Does a parent who can’t (or won’t) pay child support still have custody and visitation rights?  Under North Carolina law, the answer is yes.

A child has a right to be supported by his or her parents and the court has the authority to enter an order establishing child support and enforcing child support.

A parent has a right to spend time with his or her child.  This right has been declared to be a constitutionally protected interest.

What this means is that a parent who does not pay child support or who is behind in child support still has a right to be with his or her children.  A parent who refuses to allow visits because the other parent is behind or not paying support may be held accountable by the courts.

The non-payment of support does have an impact on custody.   For example, if you were a judge and you hear someone talk about how much they love their child but they do not contribute to the child’s support, how seriously could you take their claims of love?   It is always best for a parent who is seeking custody to show a track record of financial support.

However, be aware that non-payment of support ordered could be a grounds for termination of parental rights.  If a parent’s parental rights are terminated for non-payment of support (or for other reasons such as abuse or neglect) that parent does not have any right to visitation or custody.


Raleigh divorce lawyer Scott Allen handles modification of custody, child custody, child support, temporary child support, and temporary custody hearings and has over seventeen years of experience.  

If you have questions or need assistance call him at (919) 863-4183 or email at