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Can you withhold visitation if your co-parent doesn’t pay support?

On Behalf of | May 15, 2023 | Child Support

It’s frustrating when a co-parent is supposed to make child support payments and they don’t. This scenario happens all too often. In fact, unpaid support is a $10 billion problem in this nation, and it’s estimated that less than half of custodial parents receive all of the support they’re due – and over 30% of custodial parents receive nothing at all.

If you’re in that situation, it’s important not to try “self-help” remedies, like denying your co-parent their visitation time with your child until they make good on their debt. That can actually lead to big legal problems for you.

Custody and child support are two separate issues

While child support and custody do seem to be interrelated to most people, the reality is that they are two different things, and visitation by the non-custodial parent isn’t conditional upon support. Withholding visitation from your co-parent is considered custodial interference and damaging to the parent-child relationship, which could lead to contempt charges for you or put your current custody orders in danger.

You may not relish the idea of addressing the situation with your co-parent, especially if previous conversations over the issue have proved fruitless. However, you are not entirely without power or options. Michigan has a robust system in place that can help. You can ask the Friend of the Court to enforce your co-parent’s support order through things like:

  • Income withholding to collect current support and arrearages
  • Federal and state tax return offsets
  • Liens against their personal property, including homes and businesses
  • The suspension of their driver’s license, hunting licenses or professional licenses

If methods like these fail, your co-parent can even be prosecuted for felony non-support, so the pressure to pay up can be intense. Every parent is obligated to provide necessary support for their child. If your co-parent is not paying their court-ordered support, seek legal guidance to take legal steps to have the order enforced without putting yourself in danger of violating your custody order.