Over and over again, all across the country, a parent (usually a mother, but not always) will not let the non-custodial parent see their children during their court-ordered parenting time. As a result, the non-custodial parent will lash back by withholding child support. “Is this the right way to go about it?” No, it is not, and for reasons, we will explain.
We get it, parental alienation is a very real thing and it can destroy the relationship between parents and their children. If your former spouse is not letting you see your children during your court-ordered parenting time, or if the kids always seem to be “sick” or “away at a friend’s house” when they’re supposed to be with you, it can be disheartening. The answer, however, is not to stop paying child support.
Child Custody & Child Support Are Separate Issues
For starters, child support and child custody are two separate issues. A parent in California cannot stop paying child support if their former spouse is withholding the children from them. If a parent withholds child support, the local child support agency will spring into action. Just a few of the child support enforcement tools include:
- Bank account levies
- Liens on real estate
- Wage garnishment
- Tax refund intercept
- Lottery winning intercept
- Driver license suspension
- Denial of a U.S. passport (arrears $2,500 and above)
- Suspension of professional and occupational licenses
If you decide to withhold child support because your ex is not letting you see your children, it could backfire on you, and wreak havoc in many ways. But, that doesn’t mean you don’t have options, because you do.
If your ex will not let you see your children during your court-ordered parenting time, you must exercise your parental rights. Our advice is to go back to court immediately and inform the family court of what your ex-husband or wife is doing. You may also be interested in knowing that what your ex is doing may be illegal.
Under Section 278.5(a) of the California Penal Code, it reads: “Every person who takes, entices away, keeps, withholds, or conceals a child and maliciously deprives a lawful custodian of a right to custody, or a person of a right to visitation, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months, or two or three years, a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both that fine and imprisonment.”
If you’re being deprived of rightful custody or visitation, contact our Oceanside family law firm to exercise your legal rights. Contact us today to learn more.