When couples argue during the marriage, those arguments don’t always end because the couple divorces. Sometimes, former spouses continue to have problems far after the ink has dried on their divorce papers. Other times, new problems arise and a former couple starts having issues all over again and such arguments end up affecting things like child custody, visitation, and child support.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a custodial parent to hit their ex where it hurts – with the children. A custodial parent may get angry at their ex for some reason and they’ll stop the noncustodial parent from seeing their kids. For example, let’s say a mother is a custodial parent and whenever it’s the father’s turn to see his children, the kids will suddenly be “sick,” or they’ll be at a friend’s house, or the mother will take the children out of town so their father doesn’t get to see them.
Parental Alienation & Child Custody
When a custodial parent bars the noncustodial parent from seeing their children, it can be considered “parental alienation,” especially when such behavior is willful and intentional. If a pattern develops and the custodial parent is clearly trying to block the other parent from seeing his or her children, it’s very common for the noncustodial parent to lash back and say, “Oh really? You won’t let me see my kids? I’ll show you. I’ll stop paying child support.”
But is this practice acceptable? While it may seem justified, it is not a good idea. You see, child custody and child support are two separate issues. If you are the noncustodial parent and your ex isn’t letting you see your children, you cannot stop paying child support because they are not connected.
If you stop paying child support to teach your ex a lesson, you’re the one who is going to suffer. The local child support agency can spring into action and you can face any combination of the following:
- Your wages can be garnished
- Your bank accounts can be levied
- Your licenses can be suspended, including your driver’s license
- You can be denied a U.S. passport or it can be revoked
- Your tax refund can be taken for child support
- A lien can be placed on your house
- Your lottery winnings can be taken
- The child support arrears can be reported on your credit
- You can be held in contempt of court
If your child’s other parent is not letting you see your children for any reason, the worst thing to do is stop paying child support and not fight for your parental rights. You DO have legal recourse. Our advice is to continue paying child support and take the other parent back to court to enforce your court-ordered parenting time.
If it can be proven that your ex is intentionally blocking you from seeing your children, it is possible for the court to find that he or she is alienating you and it could have a direct impact (in your favor) on child custody. To learn more about your rights and options, contact our firm to get started.