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Can you stop paying child support if your ex refuses timesharing?

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2024 | FAMILY LAW - Divorce |

Child support and custody battles are rarely easy for a family. Court orders can be difficult to navigate, leaving parents and children feeling unsatisfied with the outcome.

Some parents might even resort to denying timesharing and using lame excuses to justify their behavior. In turn, a parent who pays child or spousal support might decide to withhold payments as retaliation. Is this response legal?

Support payments and custody in Florida

The United States Census Bureau released a study in 2020 that discovered that 24% of custodial parents only received partial support payments. Over 30% did not receive payments at all.

Divorced individuals should understand that child support, spousal support and custody orders are separate arrangements in Florida. Paying child support does not guarantee timesharing rights, and denying visitation does not release the noncustodial parent from the obligation to pay court-ordered support.

Therefore, the court will likely view withholding payments as a violation of its orders, regardless of the reason. In Florida, being delinquent on payments can result in fines, seizure of personal property or assets, suspension of driver’s licenses and even a warrant for arrest. Therefore, a parent cannot unilaterally decide not to pay support because of issues regarding timesharing rights.

Only a court order can change child support obligations. Therefore, making timely payments protects a parent from hefty fines or even a criminal record.

What a parent can do if a co-parent denies access to the child

If a co-parent denies timesharing, it is not advantageous for a person to take matters into their own hands. Retaliation by not paying support payments may cause more harm than good.

Instead, a parent can follow the correct procedure. An initial step may be to request a modification of the custody arrangement through a family law court. This process will allow both parents to go before a judge and present their case to modify the custody arrangement while waiting for a final decision.

If the co-parent still denies timesharing rights, the aggrieved parent can file a motion for contempt. If a judge finds the co-parent in contempt for violating custody arrangements, that person may face fines, prison time or have to pay the other’s legal fees.

Support and custody battles can be a stressful experience. Understandably, a parent may feel compelled to avoid paying child or spousal support payments if the other parent denies timesharing. However, this course could ultimately be damaging to oneself and the whole family. Instead, using the proper channels by bringing the matter before the court can result in a more satisfying resolution.