It can be extremely frustrating to have a co-parent who is routinely late with their child support payments or almost never seems to come up with the full amount but uses every moment of their designated custody or visitation time. Often, parents in that situation believe that their best course of action is to refuse to allow their co-parent to see their child until they pay up.
While that might seem only fair, that’s not how the law works. Child support and parenting time are two completely separate things. Just as a parent can’t withhold access to a child for failure to pay child support, a parent can’t withhold support if their ex doesn’t abide by the custody or visitation. Even a parent who is denied any right to see their child, generally due to abuse allegations, or who has no interest in being part of their child’s life is usually ordered to pay child support because they’re expected to share financial responsibility for their child.
Georgia law has a variety of child support enforcement measures
If your co-parent isn’t abiding by the child support order, you have every right to ask the court to enforce that order. Georgia law provides for a range of child support enforcement actions for those who can afford to pay but don’t. If a parent can’t afford the child support they’ve been ordered to pay (maybe because they’ve lost their job or their business isn’t doing well), they need to make that case to the court.
By withholding your child, however, you’re risking legal consequences yourself. More importantly, you’re only adding to the harm done to your child who’s already not getting the financial support they need.
Even if you’re willing to compromise with your ex, for a smaller amount of support, a judge has to approve a child support change, even if it’s temporary, based on what they determine is in the child’s best interests. If you aren’t getting the ordered child support, it’s important to obtain legal guidance.