Early last month we spent some time on our Dallas family law blog discussing a subject which arose again at the conclusion of our last post. Readers may be wondering: how does child support affect issues of child custody and visitation? Let’s take a closer look this week at child custody and visitation, in particular at a few points addressed on the Texas Attorney General’s website. We present this as general information only, not as specific legal advice.

It’s not uncommon for people to lump together in their minds the issues of child support and child custody. And while there is typically some interplay between these two, they are in fact separate issues. No matter who has primary custody, for example, both parents must provide for the child.

Typically, the noncustodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent. Should primary custody change hands, a new court order for child support will be required. The court will have discretion over the amount — parents cannot simply switch and assume the same rules will apply.

Visitation rights are also not intrinsically linked to child support. Greater support payments will not necessarily equate to greater visitation time, nor vice versa. However, barring concerns over the child’s safety, the custodial parent who receives child support will generally be expected to allow visitation as ordered by the court.

A common misconception is that a custodial parent may deny visitation if the other parent falls behind on child support. This is false. A custodial parent may be held in contempt of court if he or she tries to do so.

As readers can see, there is some overlap between child support and custody/visitation, but there are some important distinctions as well. Consider speaking with a legal professional if you have additional questions about these apply in your own family situation.