My Child’s Other Parent Won’t Let Me See My Child but I Pay Child Support – What can I do?
At the heart of every child custody case are child support and possession schedules. Sometimes parents have the same or similar ideas of what possession and support should look like, whereas other times the parents can be miles apart. Once an order is established, it may seem like the disputes are over; however, sometimes parents can decide they don’t like the current possession schedule and choose to withhold the child, while still taking the support checks from the obligated parent. So, if you find yourself in this situation – what should you do?
The most important thing you can do is keep detailed, thorough records of every time the other parent withholds your child from you, whether it be an extra hour or days at a time. Send the other parent text messages, emails, or anything in writing asking that the possession schedule follow your court order, and flag any responses wherein he or she states they won’t comply. Having evidence of a history or pattern of defying the court order could be essential in not only winning a hearing, but possibly preventing one also. If your order requires you to use OurFamilyWizard or other co-parenting app, be sure to use it religiously. It is also important in order to bring a contempt action to make sure that you are showing up at the time and place the order requires to pick up the child with a witness, even if the other parent has informed you that they will not be there or will not give you the child. You also have the option to call the pólice and ask them on the spot to interpret and enforce your order. They are not required to but they are allowed to and sometimes they will.
It may be extremely tempting to do the same thing the other parent is doing and simply hold the child for extra time yourself. However, this won’t look good to a judge if you end up at a hearing over the possession schedule. You want to look as favorable as possible to the court, which means strict adherence to the order in the absence of agreements with the other parent. Make note of the extra withholding, but don’t keep your child an extra hour if the other parent doesn’t agree.
Just as similarly tempting, don’t stop paying your support payments. Support orders are made for the best interest of the child, not for your best interest. Therefore, a court will not look sympathetically upon a parent who is depriving their child of support. Further, the other parent could file an enforcement action to collect on the unpaid support. If proven at a hearing, you will be liable not only for the past support, but most likely for interest and attorney’s fees incurred in collection. Continue to pay your support payments on time and in full.
A court-ordered possession schedule guarantees possession of children to a parent, and when that time is not given because of the other parent’s refusal to cooperate, there are reprocussions. You may be able to file an enforcement action to have the court order make up time, or make more immediate orders if warranted. You may also want to file a modification action to change the possession schedule altogether. Don’t let the other parent off the hook for disobeying a court order – consult with a family law attorney about your options to get things back on track.
Co-parenting is not easy, and if you find yourself in a situation like this one, we are more than happy to help. The attorneys at Duffee + Eitzen, including myself, are ready and waiting to consult with you and to provide much-needed assistance in a family crisis. Call us at 214-416-9010 to set up a consultation.
About the author:
Zak Martinez, an associate at Duffee + Eitzen, was born in Dallas, and raised in the nearby suburb of Rockwall, where he graduated from Rockwall High School in 2010. He attended Southern Methodist University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Religious Studies.
After graduating from SMU, Mr. Martinez went on to attend Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth. He was selected as a Public Service Law Fellow during his first year of law school. As a Fellow, he completed hundreds of hours of pro bono public service work at the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office in California. Mr. Martinez then served on the Board of the Fellowship at his law school, planning fundraising events, and encouraging other law students to participate in pro bono public service work. During the summer after his second year, he was selected as a specialized intern for the family violence unit at the Rockwall County District Attorney’s Office in his hometown. It was while working here that he found a passion in helping people get out of toxic situations, which led him to want to work in family law.
Mr. Martinez did some of his coursework at the University of San Francisco School of Law in the Bay Area. There, he expanded his legal portfolio by taking classes like Maritime Law and International Human Rights, and also participated in the LGBT law student organization, OUTlaw, and the Criminal Law Society.
After he graduated law school in 2017, Mr. Martinez took the bar exam and was admitted to practice in Texas in November 2017. He also took the Uniform Bar Exam, and was admitted to practice in the State of Colorado in January 2019, and to the State of Utah in May 2019. He clerked for a labor and employment law firm in Dallas, where he gained valuable insight into civil law proceedings before he joined Duffee + Eitzen in 2018. He has a penchant for travel and aviation, his favorite destination being Hong Kong. He also enjoys spending time with his parents, former and current Dallas Police Detectives, and his younger sister, Brooke, a student at Rockwall High School.