The unequivocal answer is "no." Under Massachusetts law, child support and parenting time are separate matters and a parent's failure to pay child support is not a legal justification to deny or suspend visitation.
Raising a child in Massachusetts is expensive. Both parents share a duty to financially provide for their child, regardless of custody or parental rights. Likewise, every child has a right to financial support from his or her parents. While the court will consider many factors when making a decision on custody, income alone won't prevent a parent from getting custody of his or her child.
In August 2016, President Obama signed the instrument of ratification for the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.
Even if Massachusetts parents have joint physical custody, child support can still be ordered because the purpose of child support is to ensure the children are adequately provided for. The belief is that the children have a right to benefit from the income of both their parents in the same way that the children would have if their parents stayed together.
In determining a Massachusetts child support obligation, the first factor to be considered is the gross incomes of both parents. In determining a parties gross income, the court will consider whether willful underemployment or unemployment is being attempted by either parent. In other words, either parent is capable of earning more money than they currently do.
Even if parents have joint physical custody, child support can still be ordered. This is because the purpose of child support is to ensure the children are adequately provided for regardless of where they reside.
Child support can be a complicated, and often misunderstood, system. While every case is unique and should be discussed with an experienced family law attorney to fully understand the complexities and implications, there are some recurring myths that appear in many cases.
If children are involved in a family law case, there is sometimes a need for temporary child support. Fortunately, Massachusetts has a procedure for obtaining temporary child support. Temporary child support is child support that the court orders to be paid by one parent to the other for the benefit of the child(ren) during the pendency of the case.
In Massachusetts Probate and Family Court cases, resentment can exist between the person paying child support and the person receiving it. The person paying often feel that the amount they are required to pay is too high, especially if they believe that the other party is misusing the money or spending some of the money on him or herself. As a result, the payor often thinks that taking a job that pays less may solve this problem. They believe that even though they'd earn less, their support obligation would fall as well.