Can I Halt Child Support Payments if I Stop Seeing My Children?
For various reasons, some parents do not stay involved in their children’s lives. Maybe the children move too far away or the parent starts another family. Whatever the reasons, some parents wonder if they can stop paying child support if they no longer visit their children.
Our Delaware County divorce attorney has a simple answer: “No!” Child support obligations are separate from whether or not people want to stay involved in their children’s lives. Parents can choose to maintain a relationship with their children or not. But deciding to step away does not relieve a parent of child support obligations.
Children Have a Right to Child Support
Pennsylvania law states that parents must support their children until they reach 18 or graduate high school, whichever comes later. This law accomplishes many purposes, one of which is to keep children from going on welfare. Instead, the state reasonably believes that parents need to take care of the children they have created.
A judge will order child support based on many factors, including how much time you have the children. The more time you have with them, then the less child support a person will normally pay.
However, it doesn’t follow that if you decide to reduce your contact with a child to zero, that you can get out of paying child support. The law doesn’t work that way.
You Aren’t Paying for Access
One common assumption seems to be that parents are paying child support so they can maintain access to their child. The thinking seems to be, “Since I’m giving up my right to see my child, I get relieved from my child support.”
That type of thinking is simply wrong. Child support obligations will continue until high school graduation in most cases, and this is true whether you make time to see your children or not.
If Your Ex is Keeping the Kids from You, Speak to an Attorney
Another popular theory is, “My ex is keeping me from seeing my kids, so I can retaliate by withholding child support.” This is also wrong, though we sympathize with parents who are unfairly prevented from seeing their children.
It sometimes happens that an ex will come up with an excuse for why you can’t see your child, or your ex just never shows up at the drop off date. This type of behavior completely violates the child custody order and is unacceptable.
Nevertheless, there are steps you need to take if your ex is withholding your children. And cutting off child support is not one of them. Instead, meet with an attorney who can bring the denial of custody to the judge’s attention. Your ex will probably be hauled into court to explain his or her behavior. And if it continues, then the judge can take remedial action, including awarding you more time with your children or holding your ex in contempt of court.
If you have a question about child support, reach out to a Media child support attorney today. The lawyers at Barbara Flum Stein & Associates have helped many people just like you with a child support or child custody dispute. Contact us to schedule your consultation.