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Withholding child support over missed visitation: A big mistake

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2016 | Child Support

No one wants to get divorced, but well over half the adult marriages and those involved in them will experience this painful legal process at some point in their lives. Often, when divorce begins, both parties can become contentious, angry, and even bitter. This can lead to inappropriate behavior, fighting, and a drawn-out divorce process.

One of the most contentious and emotional topics of any divorce is always the custody of any marital children. Especially if the fact that your spouse was filing for a divorce came as a surprise, the temporary custody order may not reflect your desire to be with your children as much as possible. This can lead to real frustrations, especially if there is a child support order to go along with the reduced time with your children. However, custody in Michigan is meant to be fair and gender neutral. In time, the courts should uphold your parental rights.

When one parent withholds visitation

The only thing worse than having your relationship with your children relegated to specific times of day on certain days of the week and alternating weekends is when even that contact is denied. Sometimes, the custodial parent, in the heat of the divorce and custody battle, may begin denying the non-custodial parent his or her right of visitation. The individual may do this by using the Friend of the Court rules against the non-custodial parent, by doing things like canceling visitation if the other parent is more than fifteen minutes late for pick-up. While this kind of behavior is technically legal, if it becomes a pattern, it can be presented to the courts as proof of the custodial parent’s attempt to deny visitation and possibly alienate the other parent.

Sometimes, however, the custodial parent will flatly, directly, and intentionally violate the temporary court order granting the non-custodial parent visitation during the divorce process. In these cases, the custodial parent may claim the children do not wish to have their visitation, or they may make unproven claims of abuse to prevent visitation. In situations like these, it can be tempting to withhold child support payments until visitation resumes, but doing so will only make the non-custodial parent look bad to the courts.

Michigan child support isn’t voluntary

The state of Michigan takes a grim view of non-custodial parents who shirk off their financial child support duties. Not only are non-complying parents subject to the garnishment of wages, if there is an enforcement push underway, they could also face incarceration if the individual is located by law enforcement while child support is in arrears. This is critical. If the courts have ordered you to pay child support, you must pay the full amount, on time, as required by the temporary support order. It is possible to have both parenting time and child support payments adjusted, but to do so, you must go through the court process.

If you are struggling with child support and visitation issues or have just been advised of your spouse’s intention to divorce you, your best option is to retain a skilled family law attorney with a successful history of representation in contentious divorce cases. An attorney can ensure you comply with the law and all court orders while also advocating for fairness when it comes to support amounts and visitation enforcement.