Don’t Withhold Child Support To Enforce Visitation Rights
The issues of child support and child custody are often the two most contentious issues in a divorce. While many parents are eventually able to find a balance that works for both, it’s also very common for one or both spouses to feel unsatisfied with the arrangements that have been decided by the court.
If either spouse fails to comply with the terms they agreed to regarding either child custody and/or child support payments, there is often the impulse by the other spouse to retaliate in some way.
In regards to visitation rights, if a custodial parent is not honoring their agreement with the non-custodial parent, the non-custodial parent may be tempted to withhold child support in an attempt to force their ex to live up to their agreement. This is always a bad idea.
Separate Legal Issues
From a legal perspective, child custody and child support are separate, unrelated issues. Whatever arrangement parents have come to (or the court has ordered) regarding child support after their divorce does not have any legal bearing on custody and visitation rights.
In fact, withholding child support payments in an attempt to force an ex to honor visitation rights is more likely to do more harm than good. Because child support and custody are separate, not paying child support can lead to legal trouble for the parent who is not paying.
Enforcing Visitation Rights
The right way to enforce visitation rights is through the court. If a couple has a legally binding custody agreement in place, and a judge has signed off on it, it is legally enforceable. Judges look very unfavorably on those who don’t comply with their orders, and they have broad leeway in deciding how to remedy problems like this.
What can hurt a parent who isn’t getting the visitation rights they agreed to is if they are perceived as not holding up their end of the bargain as well. In other words, a parent complaining about visitation who hasn’t been paying child support leaves themselves open to the argument that the don’t deserve their visitation rights precisely because they haven’t been paying child support.
A parent filing a complaint with the court about visitation rights is current on their child support payments, the court is more likely to work with them to remedy the problem.
Working With A Family Law Attorney
An experienced divorce and family law attorney has likely seen scenarios like this dozens of times before. Working with a competent attorney can often help improve a parent’s chances of enforcing their visitation rights, and expediting the process to make that happen.
At Vonder Haar Law, we understand how difficult issues like child support, custody, and visitation can be. We’ve help many clients enforce their rights by working through the legal system. If you need help with custody and visitation, please contact us today.
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