Dealing with a former spouse who is not paying their court-ordered share of child support can be an unfortunate hassle. Left with this financial and emotional burden, you may feel like you’ve made every attempt to collect but just aren’t getting anywhere. You may even be at the point where you’re asking yourself, “is withholding visitation an option?”
The answer to that question is no. You cannot refuse visitation if your ex is not paying child support. While you may be able to have your ex-spouse’s visitation rights modified in court, withholding visitation rights is considered custodial interference. Child support and visitation rights are two separate issues that should not be confused.
- Child support is determined in court, and must follow the guidelines of the Child Support Enforcement Act. These guidelines vary from state to state. The factors that are looked at include the child’s needs (health care, education, child care, etc.), the income and needs of the custodial parent, the paying parent’s income and the child’s standard of living before the divorce or separation.
- Visitation rights are determined to protect the rights of the non-custodial parent and the rights of the child to have a relationship. Visitation allows for the non-custodial parent to spend time with the child for specifically agreed upon, routinely scheduled times.
While they must be kept separate, it is not uncommon to see disputes arise over visitation in relation to child support issues. You may wish to change your existing agreement in result of lack of support, but you must do so in court. Modification of visitation orders are heavily litigated in family law, and the failure of one party to make their child support payments can be grounds for this.
Before you explore making changes to a visitation order, you may want to ensure you’ve made all other legal attempts to collect court-ordered child support from a parent who is not paying their share. Fortunately, there are laws and tools in place to protect a child’s right to financial assistance from both parents. In the state of Florida, the Child Support Enforcement Program uses these tools:
- Income deduction
- New hire reporting
- Driving, hunting and fishing license suspension
- Intercepting/seizing assets
- Contempt of court
- Arrest warrants
- Consumer reporting
- Federal prosecution
- Vehicle and vessel registration suspension
- Professional/business license suspension
- Passport denial
If you’re struggling with trying to collect court-ordered child support, or if you would like to make modifications to your existing visitation order, Parker & Dufresne can help. Our Jacksonville family law experts will guide you through this process. Call us today at 904-733-7766 to learn more.
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