I was watching Ant-Man with my 11 year old son and the scene comes up where Scott, the father, shows up uninvited to his daughter’s birthday party. He gets to see his daughter for a couple of minutes, but is put out of the birthday party and told by her mother:
- Get an apartment. Get a job, pay child support. And then we will talk about visitation, I promise. You’re her hero, Scott. Just, be the person that she already thinks you are.
My thought turned to my son, what if I was Scott? Where did she get the idea that he needed to get a job, and apartment, and pay child support to see his child? All three are very important but so is a child seeing her father. While a court will look at Scott’s living conditions and ability to provide for his daughter while she is in his custody, the courts have made it clear that child support and custody are two separate issues and one cannot withhold custody for lack of child support.
Scott didn’t know his rights. He assumed that the only road to seeing his daughter was to make her Mother happy. He didn’t know that he could go to court to get custodial time with his daughter. He didn’t think to seek out the advice of an attorney. Instead, he did what many do accept things or talk to their friends who are no more educated in family law than they are.
I by no way condone a person not paying child support, not having income or a stable environment for their child during the custodial time. I do believe that a parents’ basic right to spend time with their child should not be totally connected with the before mentioned. I also ask is it really in the best interest of the child to not see her Father? To know that you will not let her see Dad or to believe that he just doesn’t want to see her? There are better ways to deal with a parent not paying child support or having a place for the child to stay during custodial time. They could work out dinner visits or lunch visits. The custodial parent could also file for child support in the court system if he is not paying on his own.
So I say to Scott, don’t take this rejection and turn back to crime. Consult a family lawyer and know your rights. File a custody petition; after all, nothing good can come from turning to crime. It’s not like you will become a Super Hero, beat up an Avenger and save the world.
How many Scotts are out there? How many people are told what they need to do in order to see their child? How do those stories turn out? There is value to consulting with a family lawyer. If you find yourself in this situation don’t go at it alone call us here at LaMonaca Law 610-892-3877 for assistance and guidance. You might not become the next Avenger, but you will be a hero to your child!!!!