In California, like the other states, both of a child’s parents have a duty to financially support their children until they reach adulthood. Most parents take up this duty without the government’s involvement. When divorce or a non-marital split from a child’s other parent comes into the picture, however, the family courts may step in and issue a child support order.
Unfortunately, once divorce is finalized and custody and child support orders issued, it is not uncommon for a parent to interfere with a court-sanctioned parenting time order. Consequently, a child’s other parent might lash back by withholding child support. Is this an appropriate response to a challenging situation?
Child support and parenting time are two separate orders
Generally, withholding a court-approved parenting time is an unacceptable way to handle custody issues. In fact, this is illegal per California’s penal code. Even if the paying parent has fallen behind in paying child support, the terms of a parenting plan has to be followed to the letter unless the court weighs in otherwise.
That said, it’s important to keep in mind that child support and parenting time are independent of each other. Withholding child support without involving the court can result in wage garnishment, loss of your driver’s license and jail time among other consequences.
So, what should you do if your ex is stopping you from seeing your child?
While it is true that denied parenting time can be devastating, it helps to know that you have legal options that you can consider. Here are steps worth considering:
- Gather your evidence by documenting withheld parenting time
- File a contempt motion against your ex with the family court
- Seek the court’s intervention in enforcing your parenting time or modifying your existing parenting plan.
If your ex is interfering with your parenting rights, you may benefit from bringing the matter to the attention of the court as soon as possible. While seeking to assert your legal rights, you need to keep calm and honor your child support obligation. Remember: two wrongs don’t make a right. Instead, seeking legal guidance and behaving within the bounds of the law may help to bolster your overall case.