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Why you can't withhold child support if your ex denies visitation

When you and your spouse divorced, you agreed to pay child support until your children turn 18 or graduate from high school. Perhaps the two of you negotiated a fair support amount, with the help of your attorneys. Maybe you couldn't agree on an amount, so a judge decided the matter for you. Either way, you have a court order that requires you to pay child support every month.

Now your co-parent, who has primary custody of the kids, isn't letting you have the agreed-upon visitation. Many non-custodial parents respond to this kind of action by withholding child support. That's a very unwise move.

It's crucial to understand that support is not quid pro quo for access to your children. The purpose of child support is to help ensure that kids' needs continue to be met after their parents split up. Courts don't consider support and custody/visitation issues together — they are two separate matters. That's why parents can't refuse visitation to an ex who isn't paying child support.

If you have court-ordered visitation or shared custody of your children and your co-parent isn't complying with that order, you should talk to your family law attorney to determine what your options are to get the court-mandated access to your children. Refusing to pay child support in the meantime isn't going to help your case and could land you in legal jeopardy.

Family court judges don't look kindly on parents who use either child support or the children themselves as bargaining chips. Their responsibility is to consider what's in the best interests of the children.

If you are having an issue with your co-parent regarding visitation or child support that the two of you are unable to resolve, it's essential to deal with the issue through the appropriate legal channels. Your attorney is there to help protect your parental rights so that you can work to build a solid relationship with your kids.

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