Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Don't Get to See My Children?
It hardly seems fair to pay your child support on time, week after week, month after month, only to have your ex-husband or ex-wife prevent you from seeing your children. In fact, problems with visitation are one of the most common reasons given by parents for not paying their child support. However, child support and visitation are two totally separate issues, and you cannot stop paying child support simply because your ex-spouse is not allowing you to see your children.
While it is tempting to stop your child support payments in order to get back at your ex-spouse for not letting you see the kids, it won’t help you out in the long run. Just as your ex-spouse is ordered to allow you visitation with your children, you are ordered to pay child support. Therefore, if you don’t pay child support, for whatever the reason, you are violating the terms of a court order, and you can be punished by the court for doing so. It will also not reflect well on you if you complain to the court about your ex-spouse violating a court order by not allowing you to visit, when you are also violating a court order.
The only exception to this rule, which is rare, is when your ex-spouse disappears with your children for an extended period of time, which effectively prevents you from having any contact with your children at all. In this case, some courts have held that a parent’s child support obligation should stop, at least on a temporary basis, until the ex-spouse and children are located.
Barring this exception, you should continue to pay child support as ordered, even if your ex-spouse does not allow you to see the children as ordered. The proper remedy for problems with visitation is to turn to the court for assistance, not to stop paying child support. Just as you can be held accountable and/or punished by the court for failing to pay child support, your ex-spouse can be similarly held accountable and/or punished.
If you are having trouble with your ex-spouse over visitation, your best bet is to seek advice from an attorney who can advise you what steps to take next. While you might be able to work out visitation problems informally with your ex-spouse in some circumstances, you may need more formal assistance with this issue. A lawyer can contact your ex-spouse, or his or her lawyer, and try to come to some sort of resolution as to visitation with your children. If reaching an agreement is not possible, then the lawyer can help you use the court system to enforce your rights to see your children as ordered. For instance, if two parents cannot agree whether the father should have overnight visitation with two young children, then the court will make a determination of whether overnight visitation is appropriate, and how often it should occur. In any case, the court can help you enforce your visitation rights, and it is a much smarter solution than simply stopping your child support payments in order to get back at your ex-spouse.
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Child Support Enforcement
Emancipation of Minors