Everyone’s heard about the ways people can get into trouble because of child support payments. But there are plenty of ways to get into trouble as a co-parent, too.
Trying to withhold visitation because of missed child support payments.
In Pennsylvania, most parents who owe child support pay it (about 83.9% of cases are current). But for the other 16.1% of parents who are not receiving child support the situation can be frustrating, stressful, and difficult. It’s not uncommon for these parents to ask if they can “retaliate” by refusing to let the deadbeat spend time with the child.
Unfortunately, this is a terrible move that can get you into a lot of trouble.
Child support and parenting time are two different issues. If the court has ordered you to adhere to a schedule then you have to adhere to it, period.
The proper remedy for unpaid child support is to get the court to enforce it. And if you try to block the other parent’s ability to see his or her child, they have the same remedy. If you really think a modification of the schedule is in order that’s something you would have to put before the court.
And if you want the money to arrive reliably? It’s probably more effective to seek an income withholding order than to play games with parenting time. It’s also safer. Visitation interference can be used against you should the other parent wish to sue for sole custody.
Complaining about unpaid child support (or anything else the other parent is doing).
The issue of parental alienation is taking center stage in many courts right now. This is the phenomenon where one parent is accused of using manipulative tactics to drive a wedge between kids and the other parent.
Complaining about the other parent is a great way to give someone evidence in this type of case. This is especially true if you’re complaining about unpaid child support.
The family finances are not your kid’s business.
The same goes for using your child as an intermediary. If you have joint legal custody you’re going to have to resign yourself to communicating with your ex. And often. Don’t send messages through your kids. Get on the phone or write an email to discuss the issues the other parent has a right to weigh in on.
Being the No-Show Parent
It’s always surprising, and sad, when a parent who has the right to parenting time doesn’t exercise it. Who, in fact chooses just to no-show the kids. It’s also pretty common.
The courts can force the parent with physical custody to give the non-custodial parent visitation time. But the courts can’t force the visiting parent to actually show up. In this case, the danger is to the child. It hurts kids immensely when parents do this.
Flake on visits, and you could end up with a child who wants nothing to do with you later in life. You may come to regret it. You should adhere as closely as possible to your schedule unless there is a really good reason not to, like an illness.
Of course, if your child support amount was reduced because your co-parenting agreement awarded you more time with the kids then the other parent could have a great case for increasing your child support if you stop showing up. The other parent could also have a great case for modifying the schedule, reducing your visitation rights because you’re not exercising them anyway.
See also: How to Create a Solid Parenting Plan.
Got problems with support or visitation?
As mentioned, problems arise after the divorce decree is signed all the time. You may need the support of a good family law attorney to modify various orders. If you’re struggling with any court order regarding your family, give us a call. We can help.