If you’re paying child support and yet your ex always brings them to your home late on your parenting days (or finds reasons why they can’t come), you may start to feel like you should withhold child support until they comply with the custody order. Likewise, if your ex is always more than a day late and a dollar short with the child support payments you depend on, you may feel like they don’t “deserve” to see their child.
While these feelings are understandable, taking matters into your own hands like this could get you sanctioned by the court. More importantly, you’re punishing your child for your co-parent’s actions.
Here’s what’s crucial to remember: Child support is not payment for access to your child. Likewise, access isn’t a reward for paying child support. It’s not a quid pro quo. Both things are for the benefit of your child. However, they’re not interdependent.
Why you may need to involve the court
If your co-parent isn’t complying with any court order – whether it’s related to support or parenting time – you should deal with it as quickly as possible. However, you shouldn’t make changes to any order without going through the court.
If your co-parent has had a job loss or unexpected medical expense, you may agree to let them skip a few payments or ask them to pay what they can for a while. However, that can be a dangerous precedent to start.
If you’re the paying parent, you may be grateful that your ex is giving you some slack. However, they could end up accusing you of not complying with the order. Even if they don’t, if the court finds out, there can be legal and financial consequences.
If your co-parent refuses to comply with a court order or if one of you needs to modify an order – even temporarily – it’s crucial that you do so through the court. Remember that the court has a responsibility to look out for the well-being of your child. Whichever side of any of these scenarios you find yourself in, a good first step is to get legal guidance as soon as possible.