In California, Visitation is Based Upon the Best Interest of the Child and is not Contingent on the Payment of Child Support.

In Camacho v. Camacho, the appellate court addressed whether a family law judge could limit a non-custodial parent’s visitation with the child until the parent pays child support and undergoes psychiatric therapy.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND LEADING TO THE CUSTODY DISPUTE
The parties conceived a child together. The father of the minor child rarely visited his son during the first four years of his son’s life. The mother decided to remarry and informed the child’s father that she no longer wanted him to see his son. Although the parties had been married, their son was born four years after the divorce was final. The father initiated a paternity action to request visitation.

CUSTODY PROCEEDINGS
The court determined the child’s paternity. The mother requested the court to slowly increase the child’s time with his father so that the two of them would get to know each other. The trial court ordered that the father could increase his visitation with his son if the father underwent counseling and paid child support. The order did not define the amount of time the father would undergo therapy.

APPEAL OF THE TRIAL COURT’S RULING
The Second District Appellate Court held that once paternity was established, a father’s visitation could not be dependent on whether or not he paid child support unless there was also a showing that it was in the child’s best interest. The court and the legislature have repeatedly recognized that the right of visitation and support accrue to the benefit of the child and are independent of each other.

The appellate court held that it was error to order the father in this case to attend counseling indefinitely when there was no finding that the father’s mental health was at issue. The court also held that it was a violation of the father’s due process rights to undergo psychiatric treatment when nothing in the record suggested a need for therapy. Nothing in the psychologist’s testimony indicated that the child would suffer trauma if the father did not see his father.

If you need a divorce attorney in the Orange County area to address custody issues or any other divorce matter such as legal separation, annulment, child custody, spousal support and/or property division, contact our law office located in Laguna Hills at (949) 643-5662. Conveniently located off of the 5 and 405 freeway at Lake Forest.

Treviño Law, Inc
23151 Moulton Parkway
Laguna Hills, California.
Phone (949) 643-5662
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