Deadbeat parents are one of the biggest complaints among divorced couples. While deliberately ignoring one’s financial responsibilities toward one’s progeny is, indeed, despicable, can a custodial parent respond by refusing to allow the non-custodial parent court-ordered visitation? The short answer is an unambiguous NO! That being said, there are other ways to deal with this situation. A local family practice attorney can address this and other issues in greater detail.
Unrelated Court Orders
The fact of the matter is, a visitation order is separate and unaffiliated with a child support order in terms of enforcement. The only linkage between the two relates to the percentage of custody one parent has related to the incomes of both parties. Just as a parent who is ordered to pay child support must continue to do so even if the custodial parent refuses to allow visitation, a custodial parent must continue to allow visitation even if the non-custodial parent fails to pay child support.
There are a number of tools available to parents who are struggling to collect payments on behalf of their minor children. Among them are:
- Wage Garnishments: Income may be automatically deducted from a delinquent parent’s wages in order to ensure the required payments are made in a timely manner;
- Interception of Federal Tax Returns: When deficits in payments occur, the state can intervene to snag federal tax returns;
- Capturing lottery winnings: Delinquent funds may be stripped off the top of any such winnings;
- Licensing Restrictions: Driver’s and other professional licenses may be suspended or revoked until payments are up to date;
- Passport Revocation: The delinquent parent will not be allowed to travel outside the country;
- Contempt Charges: The delinquent parent may be charged with contempt of court and ordered to pay fines and/or go to jail.
In the event none of these strategies gets the attention of a delinquent spouse, the Federal Office of the Inspector General can pursue delinquent parents who live outside the state wherein the child resides. Those actions might include fines and/or a prison sentence:
- Fines and/or six months behind bars for a first offense;
- $250,000 and two years behind bars if payments have been lagging for two years or more, or more than $10,000 is delinquent.
Will Bankruptcy Impact Child Support?
Even if a non-custodial parent files bankruptcy, the child support obligation remains. The only way to amend this order is to go back to court and convince a judge that future payments should be changed. Until that happens, the previous order stands and will be enforced.
If you live in Sonoma County, Mendocino County, or Lake County California and are having, or anticipate having issues with child-support collection, the experienced family law attorneys at Beck Law P.C. can help. Contact our Santa Rosa office to get assistance with this and your other divorce issues today.