After a divorce, it’s not uncommon for conflicts to occur between parents from time to time. When such conflicts arise, the custodial parent may intentionally prevent the other parent from seeing their child during their court-ordered parenting time. This could mean scheduling play dates during the other parent’s time, lying that the child is sick, or being out of town “conveniently” when it’s the noncustodial parent’s turn.
When a pattern begins to emerge and it becomes clear that the behavior is intentional, it’s common for the noncustodial parent to lash back by withholding child support. Often, the train of thought is, “If you won’t let me see my child, I’m going to stop paying child support!” But is this a wise reaction?
Child Custody & Support Are Separate
Since child support payments are based on a parent’s income and the amount of time they spend with their children, it’s understandable why so many parents would mistakenly believe that if they are blocked from seeing their children, they shouldn’t have to pay child support, but the two are not connected the way some parents think they are.
Child support and child custody are in fact separate. If you are the noncustodial parent and your ex is preventing you from seeing your child, you must continue to pay child support. If you skip payments, they will continue to accrue; they cannot be reduced or eliminated from the date your ex stopped letting you see your child.
If you stop paying child support, the local child support agency could initiate any of the following enforcement actions against you:
- Driver’s license suspension
- Denial of a U.S. passport
- Wage garnishment
- Bank levies
- Property liens
- Credit reporting
- Tax refund intercept
- Lottery winning intercept
- Contempt of court, including fines and jail time
- And more
If your former spouse is not letting you see your children, continue paying child support but don’t ignore what they are doing to harm your relationship with your children. Contact our office immediately to ask the court to enforce the child custody order. If it can be proven that your ex is violating the child custody order, or worse, alienating you, the court can order your ex to let you see your children.
If you can show the court that your ex is intentionally alienating you from your children, it can backfire against him or her. In serious cases of parental alienation, a judge may award custody to the noncustodial parent, which could also impact child support.
If you need help with a child custody or child support matter, contact The Law Office of David A. Martin & Associates at (916) 299-3936 for a consultation.