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Can you withhold visitation over child support?

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2023 | Family Law |

It’s frustrating when your co-parent doesn’t live up to their support obligations. You’ve tried arguing, reasoning and pleading with them to no avail. Can you just withhold their visitation time with your children until they pay up?

There’s a common (but mistaken) belief that child support and visitation are somehow related – but parenting rights aren’t conferred on a “pay to play” basis. Your parenting plan and your order of support are actually two different things. Parenting time doesn’t have anything to do with how much support is or is not being paid.

You aren’t without options

If your co-parent is consistently in arrears, you still have the ability – with the help of the court – to enforce the support order. There are numerous methods that can be used, including:

  • Income withholding: The court can even intercept unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, Social Security benefits and retirement, not just wages.
  • Tax offsets: If your co-parent is due any kind of federal or state tax return, and owes at least $500 in back-due support ($150 in TANF and IV-E foster care cases).
  • Frozen accounts and liens: When a co-parent doesn’t pay up, their bank accounts can be frozen or seized and liens can be placed on their personal property.
  • License suspensions: A co-parent who is reluctant to pay may reevaluate their position once they realize that their driver’s license and professional licenses are in danger of being suspended.

If necessary, the court can also order your co-parent to be held in contempt of court and jailed.

If you withhold visitation, you can find yourself on the wrong side of the judicial hammer. That makes it much wiser to explore other enforcement options by seeking legal guidance.