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Why you can’t deny access to your child for unpaid child support

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2022 | child custody

If your co-parent is regularly late with their court-ordered child support payments or never manages to pay the full amount they owe, it can be extremely frustrating. More importantly, it can affect your and your child’s well-being. If a parent can afford to pay (or at least could if they re-prioritized their spending), they can be ordered to do so. They can potentially have some of their income withheld

If you’re not yet ready to take legal action against your co-parent, you may be considering not letting them spend time with your child. While that may be an incentive for them to pay up (assuming they can), it’s also a violation of a court order if your co-parent has time-sharing rights (more commonly known as custody or visitation).

Child support and parental time-sharing are completely separate

While it might seem like child support should be linked to parental time sharing, they are two completely different matters under the law. Parents aren’t ordered to pay child support in exchange for the right to spend time with their child. Child support is ordered to help ensure that a parent takes financial responsibility for their child and helps provide for them. 

Even if a parent chooses to have no role in a child’s life, they may still have to help support them. Whether they stop paying because they’re irresponsible or because they have lost their job (in which case they need to get their support order modified by the court), that has nothing to do with their right to see their child.

Withholding access can harm the child

Parental time sharing is decided primarily with the child’s best interests in mind. In most cases, children benefit from having a relationship with both parents even if they’re no longer together. If you start denying your co-parent access to your child, you’re the one who could end up in legal trouble and be no closer to getting the support you’re owed.

If you’re having trouble getting your child support payments and talking to your co-parent has proved useless, it’s time to explore the options you have for getting them to comply with the child support order. Having legal guidance can help you do that and avoid making ill-advised decisions that will only make matters worse for everyone – including your child.