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Why you can’t deny visitation if your ex won’t pay child support

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2018 | Child Support

You received primary custody of your children in the divorce, and your co-parent has generous visitation rights. He was ordered to pay child support. However, some months he doesn’t pay the full amount or doesn’t get around to making a payment until weeks after it was due. He’s always got some reason, but you know that he could make the payments if he really wanted to do.

How do you get him to pay up? Many parents withhold visitation rights to the children until they get their money. That’s not the solution.

First, your children have the right to a relationship with both parents unless a court has deemed one of them unfit. Second, not abiding by the custody and visitation agreement will only get you in trouble with the court.

While they may seem intertwined, visitation and support are completely separate matters under Florida law. Parents aren’t ordered to pay child support in exchange for the right to see their children. They are ordered to pay it because both parents have a financial responsibility toward their kids. That’s true whether you see your children regularly or you live far away and rarely spend time with them.

If a parent’s financial circumstances change significantly at some point after the divorce (for example, if they become unemployed) and they can’t pay child support for a time, the court may grant a modification. However, a judge won’t penalize the parent by taking away access to the children, unless there are other issues that make it unsafe for the kids to be with that parent.

If you have a co-parent who isn’t meeting their child support responsibilities, talk to your Florida family law attorney. They can help you take the legal steps that may be necessary to get your co-parent to pay you what you’re owed. If your co-parent is having financial difficulties that warrant a modification in child support payments, they’ll have to make their case to the court.

However, as your attorney will likely advise you, don’t deny your co-parent visitation rights based on non-payment of child support. Florida courts place great emphasis on parental “time sharing” after divorce. Interfering with that can be harmful to your child, whose interests the judge must consider above all else.