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Can you withhold child support because of visitation issues?

Divorce is often a difficult period for everyone involved. Both spouses are typically experiencing powerful emotions, and any marital children may be struggling with the dissolution of the family they've known. When former spouses have a hard time agreeing on critical aspects of a divorce, such as child support, custody, and visitation, it can make a difficult situation even more problematic.

If your former spouse is preventing you from your visitation or partial custody, it can be tempting to withhold child support payments. Doing so, however, can jeopardize your case for custody and your freedom.

Why does one spouse get temporary custody and support?

Generally, the person who files the request for the divorce proceedings with the court gets to create the temporary custody arrangements. They can request custody during the divorce process, with the divorce judge or the former spouses deciding on a final custody arrangement later. For the person who doesn't file, this means that in one day, he or she can go from married living with children to being expected to find new housing and only getting to see one's kids on certain days. All of this while being expected to pay for child support. It can be an emotionally difficult and frustrating situation.

What happens if you withhold child support?

If your former spouse is not allowing you to have your ordered visitation, either by cutting it short or refusing to allow it altogether, you need to document what is happening. If you haven't done so already, you should retain the services of an experienced divorce and family law attorney who can help you through the divorce process. When the time comes, you can present the courts with evidence that your visitation or partial custody was being denied, withheld, or reduced. As long as you continue to pay child support, you will show the courts that you've been putting the needs of the children first.

If you stop making child support payments or make reduced payments, it can cause a lot of legal issues. The courts may find you in contempt of your support order, which can result in the garnishment of your wages, the seizure of your tax return, or even incarceration until you comply. Additionally, refusing to meet your support obligations can hurt your case for custody, equal asset division, or increased visitation in the future.

An experienced divorce attorney can help with support and visitation issues

­If you believe that your child support level is too high, an experienced divorce attorney can request the proper hearings to have it evaluated and corrected. The state uses a basic calculator to determine support amounts, and information you have about your finances may help to have the ordered amount changed.

If your visitation is being shortened or withheld, legal advocacy can help you appeal to the courts to have it enforced. Working with an attorney ensures that your position is accurately portrayed to the courts and protects your family and future. Particularly in contentious divorces where one party isn't complying with visitation, the help of an experienced divorce attorney is invaluable.

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