In moments of desperation, with the process of divorce still fresh in their mind, many parents take non-payment child support payments (contempt) into their own hands for the sake of avoiding court and legal fees and will withhold visitation as leverage. While many people feel it is a good idea to withhold visitation if they are not receiving custody payments, this is one of the worst decisions you can make.
While you may think this will force your ex-spouse to “pay up,” the truth is that it can be used against you and can be turned into a contempt action against you. The fact is that the courts view child support and visitation as completely separate issues. Just like your ex can be held in contempt for not following the child custody rules set forth in your settlement, you can be held in contempt for not following the visitation rules. The court views visitation as your child’s right, and primarily for the child’s benefit, and thus withholding it does not serve the court’s judgment what is in the best interest of your child.
Additionally, as financial support is the responsibility of each parent, the court will take very seriously any action filed due to contempt of custody payment. So much so, contempt can sometimes be punished with jail time.
If your ex-spouse is continuously late on payments or is withholding payments, you should either ask your family law attorney to write him/her a letter detailing what he/she owes and by when you expect the money to be paid back. In the alternative, you should consider contacting your local child support enforcement office for guidance and assistance.
Either way, you should make sure that you meticulously document the payments your ex-spouse makes as well as the ones he/she does not. If you are not able to get the money even after you try to contact your spouse through your attorney, you should file a contempt action and let the court system handle it.
If he/she is found in contempt of court, you will generally not be responsible for all of the fees incurred in filing the action, including attorney fees. You will also most likely receive back payment for the unpaid support and your ex will receive some sort of punishment for contempt to ensure the payments are not delinquent or default again. Also, at this time, it is advised that an income deduction order be implemented, which will automatically take the child support payments from your ex-spouse’s payroll checks each month.
If you are facing problems with child support and/or visitation with your child, call us at 770-609-1247 to discuss how one of our experienced divorce and family law attorneys can assist you.
Content Revised: 2015-01-18