Can You Stop Paying Child Support if You Cannot See Your Children?

By: John Whitbeck

[09.16.2020] Often, tensions between two divorced persons do not end after obtaining a divorce decree, especially if their divorce involves child custody, parent visitation, and child support.

It is not uncommon for divorced parents to continue arguing and conflicting long after their divorce was finalized. When these arguments and conflicts arise, a custodial parent may use their custodial rights to their advantage by stopping the noncustodial parent from seeing their children.

Can a Noncustodial Parent Stop Paying Child Support in This Situation?

But what does it mean for the noncustodial parent? Can “payor” parents stop making child support payments if they cannot see their kids? For example, a widespread scenario is when a custodial parent gets angry at their former spouse for some reason, and they start making up excuses to prevent the other parent from seeing their kids.

Those excuses can range from “the kids are not feeling well” and “they are at a friend’s house” to “we are currently out of town.” How does this behavior affect the noncustodial parent’s obligation to pay child support? Can he or she stop paying child support?

Does the payor parent have a right to stop paying child support if the custodial parent blocks the noncustodial parent from spending time with their kids? Generally, it is not advised to stop paying child support under any circumstances unless the court has agreed to modify the existing obligation.

What Can You Do if the Other Parent is Blocking You from Seeing Your Kids?

When the noncustodial parent has noticed that the other parent is trying to block him or her from seeing their kids, they may be tempted to stop making child support payments in retaliation. 

However, doing so is not acceptable, nor is it lawful in Virginia. While it may seem a justified and fair decision, Virginia family law thinks otherwise. Under Virginia law, child support and child custody are two separate issues.

Just because your ex-spouse or partner prevents you from seeing your kids does not mean that you can stop making child support payments. That is the worst thing you can do and may face legal consequences such as wage garnishment, suspension of your licenses, levied bank accounts, and others.

Instead, talk to a child custody attorney to take the custodial parent to court to enforce your court-ordered parenting time and start seeing your kids again. If you can prove that the other parent is intentionally blocking you from seeing your children, the court may transfer more custody rights to you.

Does the Behavior Qualify as Parental Alienation?

Can the custodial parent’s behavior be considered “parental alienation” when he or she bars the other parent from seeing their children? 

In other words, if the custodial parent’s actions to prevent the other parent from seeing their kids are willful and intentional, that behavior could be considered parental alienation. The easiest way to prove parental alienation in a child support case is by establishing a pattern of such behavior.

If the custodial parent has been trying to block the noncustodial parent from seeing their kids more than once, the behavior could amount to “parental alienation.” 

To learn more about your rights, contact WhitbeckBennett by calling 800-516-3964 or email clientservices@wblaws.com.

Related: Divorce