Written by Jonathan Breeden
When your relationship with your child’s parent ended there, was likely stress related to settling visitation and child support issues. In a perfect world, everyone complies with the orders, and life goes on. But in the real world, sometimes parents fail to follow court orders. If you’re a parent paying child support but being denied your time with the children, you may be asking, “can I stop paying support if I’m denied visitation?”
The short answer is no. Although you are upset that you can’t spend time with your children, you must remember to act in their best interests. That means continuing to pay child support. Your best option is to follow your order while simultaneously working with an experienced custody lawyer to remedy your situation.
While it may seem unjust that you continue to pay child support for offspring you are prevented from seeing despite your court-ordered visitation schedule, you must understand that visitation and child support are not connected. Your child support obligation was established pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes §50-13.4 – §50-13.13. Modification to a child support order is allowed in limited circumstances as set forth by statute. Any change to your child support order must be made through the courts.
Visitation, on the other hand, is governed by North Carolina General Statutes §50-13.1 – §50-13.3. In fashioning a visitation order, the family court judge carefully considers the best interests of your child. Once an order is crafted, North Carolina family courts expect that it be honored for the sake of the children involved. The state recognizes that a relationship with both parents is necessary for the health and welfare of all involved. Accordingly, honoring visitation schedules is taken very seriously by family courts.
On the surface, it may seem a fair solution to withhold child support if the other parent is violating the visitation order. But consider if the situation was reversed. What if you lost your job and got a few months behind on your child support? Because you failed to pay, the other parent then withheld visitation. Child support is not the ransom you must pay for a relationship with your children, just like visitation isn’t a prize to withhold depending on whether the other parent meets certain requirements.
Beyond the harm to your child, failure to pay child support can have some serious consequences. Such penalties include:
If you are being denied visitation, you need to consult a family law attorney. Be prepared to provide specific dates, times, and circumstances to show the violations of your visitation order. It is important to keep very detailed records. Some parents use a calendar to keep the information straight. You will want to keep all text, email, or voicemails about visitation changes or denials.
Remember to notate every time there is a deviation from the schedule no matter what the given reason. Flat refusal to allow visitation is easy to show, but without consistent, clear notes, you may not be able to show subtle methods such as saying the child is sick or enrolling them in activities during the other’s time. It is important to have evidence of every date the visitation schedule was not honored, and the reason given.
Even the most amicable split can mean changes in the family dynamic as parents and children learn a new normal. When various orders aren’t followed, problems arise, and you may need the help of a child visitation lawyer. What you don’t need is the repercussions that come from failing to pay child support. It is harmful to your child and can have legal consequences for you.
Always maintain your support payments, and let child visitation attorney Jonathan Breeden help you reestablish your visitation rights. To schedule a consultation of your case, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970.