Are child custody issues taken as seriously as child support?

If Maryland is like the rest of the country, then fathers in this state are more likely to be a noncustodial parent following a divorce or a paternity action. This means that in most cases, the father will pay child support in order to provide for the financial needs of his child and will also receive a court order allowing him to have a relationship with his child. Both child support and parenting time are extremely important to a child’s wellbeing.

However, some Howard County child custody lawyers and others have expressed frustration with the fact that support and parenting time are subject to inconsistent enforcement. By way of example, one article points out that when a noncustodial dad gets behind in his child support, the mother does not have to spend money on a private attorney if she does not wish to. She can instead go to a local support enforcement office, which will then begin to take action against the dad. Child support enforcement can be very swift and sure. Even without a court order, a dad who is behind in his support can face the loss of a needed federal tax refund or even a driver’s license suspension.

On the other hand, should a dad require assistance in enforcing court-ordered visitation, going through a private attorney is realistically the only option. Police typically will not insert themselves into child custody disputes. Moreover, usually the worst thing that will happen to a mother who does not want to comply with visitation is that she will be told to turn the children over despite her feelings about doing so.

While certainly this system could benefit from improvements, Maryland dads who are having difficulty maintaining a relationship with their children despite having a visitation order should not simply give up hope. Fathers’ rights lawyers in Maryland could be of valuable and oftentimes affordable assistance in ensuring that a dad remains part of his child’s life.

Source: Huffington Post, “Disparity between child support and custody enforcement,” Joseph E. Cordell, May 3, 2013

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