The Confusing Relationship Between Child Support and Parenting Time

The Confusing Relationship Between Child Support and Parenting Time

If you and your spouse are unable to work out issues related to child support and custody on your own, it becomes a judge’s responsibility to make those decisions for you. Once a judge approves a divorce settlement, whether one determined by the court or worked out between the two of you, you must abide by the terms of the agreement. 

The Confusing Relationship Between Child Support and Parenting Time

You cannot change the provisions when it is more convenient for you, nor do you have the authority to flout the terms of the agreement to punish your spouse. Though parenting time (e.g., custody and visitation) and child support are separate issues, there is sometimes a relationship between them. This relationship gets confused and exaggerated in people’s minds.

Parental Obligations

In the past, when it was more common to award one parent sole custody while granting the other visitation, there was an inverse relationship between parenting time and child support. In other words, the less time you spent with the child, the greater your child support obligation was. It was believed that this was fairer to the parent who had sole custody and might not be able to work full-time to support the household as a result.

More research has revealed that it is usually much better for the child to spend as much time with each parent as possible. As a result, it is increasingly common to grant joint custody to both parents. When the time the child spends with each parent is more or less equal, it becomes harder to make child support determinations based on custody. When parents share custody, each may end up also having to meet a child support obligation.

Children’s Rights

When one parent falls behind on child support payments, the other parent may seek to punish him or her by withholding parenting time. However, this is a terrible idea for several reasons.

Parenting time is not a privilege that your co-parent earns by paying child support. It is the right of the child to spend time with both parents. By withholding or denying parenting time to punish your spouse or leverage child support payments, you are violating your child’s right to time with his or her other parent.

Furthermore, you do not have the authority to override the judge’s order. If you have to go to back court over child support or custody matters, your unwillingness to cooperate with your co-parent or abide by the initial order could work against you.

Contacting a child custody lawyer Alameda County CA from a law firm like could assist you with your child support grievances and work on finding more constructive ways to resolve your issues with your co-parent.

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