Heinrich Christian, PLLC Heinrich Christian, PLLC
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Is withholding child support a good plan?

You may be tempted to withhold child support in response to the other parent continually interfering in your time with your children. Shared custody over children is difficult for everyone, the kids, you, and yes, on your ex-partner as well. As such, it is normal for petty slights or disputes to arise. But it is important that you avoid any rash decisions. Withholding child support is one of those rash decisions.

Withholding support is almost never the appropriate response. In fact, if you withhold support, even in response to provocative behavior (like continually late dropping your child off) it could backfire and undermine your chances for a better custody arrangement. Most judges do not want parents to use support as a leverage tool in a custody dispute.

You may think that you pay support to get the privilege of seeing your children. However, that is not true. Custody and support are two entirely separate legal issues. The courts can and do order support without implementing any custody arrangements. Don't make the mistake of thinking they are linked.

If you want to modify your current custodial arrangement, your best plan is usually to work it out with the other parent. But, if they are behaving inappropriately as discussed above, that is likely not an option. In that case, you can file a petition to modify the custody order or even to sue for joint custody.

Courts only order joint custody, if it is in the best interests of the child. Numerous studies are claiming that children perform better if both parents are significantly involved in their life. But, many courts still adhere to the rule that children are best left in a single, stable home.

If you are trying to modify your custody order, then you will need to speak to a lawyer. An attorney can go over your relationship with your children and advise you on the best course of action to modify the order. But you cannot try and force a modification by withholding support. It is almost never appropriate to stop paying support. Instead, a lawyer can guide you toward constructive solutions that get you more time with your children.

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