If My Spouse Does Not Pay Child Support, May I Withhold Parenting Time?

If My Spouse Does Not Pay Child Support, May I Withhold Parenting Time?

This is a commonly asked question, and the answer is always NO, you may not withhold parenting time if your ex does not pay child support. However, the question may require some explanation. This blog explores child support and parenting time and how they may or may not be related.  

 Answering any legal question requires looking at the controlling law. Here, we must first consider the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. The Guidelines contain a rule on withholding support or parenting time “Neither parenting time nor child support shall be withheld because of either parent's failure to comply with a court order. Only the court may enter sanctions for noncompliance. A child has the right both to support and parenting time, neither of which is dependent upon the other. If there is a violation of either requirement, the remedy is to apply to the court for appropriate sanctions.” While it is understandable, since your child requires financial support, that you would want to ensure it is paid. However, denying parenting time to your ex is not only unacceptable under the Parenting Time Guidelines, but is also hurting your child, not just your ex.  

When you withhold parenting time, you are depriving your child of a relationship with their other parent. This can make your child feel unloved or abandoned by the other parent and cause great harm to their self-esteem. Your child’s well-being depends on consistency and the opportunity to have a relationship with their other parent. A further consideration when denying your ex parenting time is how you will explain it to your child. Blaming their other parent for the missed parenting time without mentioning the non-payment of child support is misleading and could cause your child to feel neglected and abandoned. On the other hand, income, child support, and bills are not appropriate topics of conversation for a child. Discussing these issues with your child may be placing a burden upon them that should be left to the adults. In any case, parents should never make disparaging remarks about the other.  

The Parenting Time Guidelines address speaking negatively about your child’s other parent “Each parent shall encourage the child to respect and love the other parent. Parents shall at all times avoid speaking negatively about each other in or near the presence of the child…” No matter how you word it, talking to your child about the non-custodial parent not paying child support is speaking negatively about them. This can make your child feel not only burdened by adult problems, but as if they are not a priority in their other parent’s life.  

If your ex is not paying child support, you should first try discussing the situation with him/her. While Indiana law does not require that you do this, it does assume that two (2) adults raising a child together, even in separate homes, are able to work with one another to resolve issues involving the child without court intervention. The court system is there only to resolve problems that the parties are unable to resolve on their own.  

Should speaking with your ex about the lack of child support, not resolve the issue, the remedy is contained in the code governing child support enforcement remedies “Notwithstanding any other law, all orders and awards contained in a child support decree or an order directing a person to pay a child support arrearage may be enforced by: (1) contempt…(2) an income withholding order; or (3) any other remedies available for the enforcement of a court order.”If your ex is currently employed, an income withholding order, directing his or her employer to withhold child support payments from each pay check and mail them directly to the Indiana State Central Collection Unit for distribution to you may be best. If your ex is not employed, or you are unsure of their employer, a petition for a contempt citation may be more appropriate. You should talk to your attorney about which remedy is best in your situation.  

If your ex is not paying child support the experienced attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. can help you ensure that your ex does not continue to fail to make support payments. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. The blog is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement. 


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