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What’s the relationship between child support and your visitation rights?

To say that your divorce has made things easier between you and your ex would be a massive overstatement. In fact, you feel like the conflicts have only escalated — and they’re largely focused around the children.

Your ex-spouse seems to think that the visitation schedule ordered by the court is somewhat optional. There’s always some excuse for why you can’t see the kids. You’re angry, upset and frustrated. You’re even thinking about withholding your child support until your ex-spouse starts to be reasonable.

Visitation and support are 2 different legal issues

Have you ever heard the phrase, “two wrongs don’t make a right?” Well, your co-parent is in the wrong for withholding access to your children, but withholding your child support payments in return would also put you in the wrong. Child support is a parent’s obligation. It’s the money you provide for your child’s support. By withholding payment, you’re actually depriving your child — not your ex — of the funds.

In addition, you put yourself in a fragile legal position. In California, the willful withholding of support can be met by a contempt charge — and that’s no joke. If you’re found guilty of contempt of court for violating your court-ordered support obligation, you can be imprisoned for up to five days and fined $1,000 per violation.

It’s better to handle your conflicts through the court

When your co-parent is in the wrong, you’re much better off approaching the situation through the court system instead of trying to take matters into your own hands. If you’re unable to work the issue out through mediation or other means, the court can help you assert your visitation rights.