It’s incredibly frustrating to deal with a co-parent who seems to flout the rules and forget their financial obligation toward their child’s needs. Sometimes, parents think that withholding visitation is the only thing they can do to force a “deadbeat” to pay up.
Unfortunately, that’s the wrong tactic to take. Withholding your child from your co-parent over unpaid child support can actually backfire and get you into trouble.
Support is a parent’s obligation, but parenting time is their right
The first thing you need to understand is that parenting time (also referred to as visitation) and support may be linked in most people’s minds, but they’re two completely different legal issues. A parent is required to provide for their child, regardless of whether they have (or use) any kind of visitation. By the same token, a parent has a right to access their child according to their parenting plan even if they never pay any support. If you ignore the parenting plan and withhold visitation, you’re violating the court’s order. That could expose you to sanctions and ultimately affect your own custody rights.
You are not entirely without options for relief
You can take the issue to the court and ask for help enforcing the child support order. The court can do things like:
- Order your co-parent’s wages to be garnished so that the support is paid
- Intercept additional sources of income from federal and state tax returns
- Suspend their driver’s license, licenses to hunt or fish, and their professional licenses
- Put liens on their personal or business property
If you’re struggling to get your co-parent to take their responsibility toward your child seriously, seeking legal guidance can help.