Let me describe a scene.
You pay your child support every month like clockwork. You always take your parent-time (i.e., visitation) with your son. Then, you get a new girlfriend. Your ex doesn’t like her at all and says she won’t have her son around the new girl. So, she doesn’t allow you visits anymore.
This sort of thing happens more than you think. Things go well in Utah divorce and child custody situations — until they don’t. And when they go bad, they usually go bad hard.
So, how do you deal with it? Your first thought may be to stop paying child support. Makes sense, right? You don’t get to see your son, so why should you have to pay?
Yeah, not a good idea. Let me explain why.
First, the legal.
Child support and visitation are two unrelated things in the law. This means if someone doesn’t pay child support, you can’t keep them from parent-time. It also means if someone withholds parent-time, you still owe child support. Legally, one does not depend on the other.
And if you stop paying child support, you are in contempt and the Court will sanction you for your contempt. Sanctions usually include paying attorney fees, and can include jail time. Not good.
Second, the practical.
- Children need child support.
Child support never actually covers half the cost of raising a child. Taking away child support usually means there is a severe shortage of funds, which hurts kids first and worst.
- You would be using your son as a pawn in a battle between you and your ex.
That’s not fair or good for your son, and it will damage him.
- You don’t want to screw up things when you file to hold your ex in contempt for refusing your parent-time.
The way you should handle things is to file for contempt of court. (This assumes you have a Utah divorce decree or Utah order of paternity. If you don’t have one of those, then it’s time to start the process.) You’ll be on firm footing. I can guarantee you, however, if you stop paying child support, it will make things much more difficult. The judge won’t like that you stopped paying, and your ex will probably file for contempt against you because you haven’t paid child support.
- It leads to an ever-escalating fight.
If you refuse to pay child support, your ex will find new and creative ways to make your life hell. You’ll then retaliate, and so will your ex. It will keep getting worse and worse. Break the cycle.
Please, pay your child support, no matter what
Don’t stop paying child support. There are other, much more productive, ways to address the problem of not getting your parent-time. Choose the higher ground; you’ll be glad you did.