If your co-parent is always late with their child support payments or rarely pays the amount ordered, it starts to add up. You and your child could quickly start to feel the effects. It can be particularly frustrating if you know your co-parent has the means to pay but is just irresponsible or intentionally short-changing you out of spite or because they don’t think the amount is fair.
Whatever the situation, it’s understandable that you may feel like your co-parent doesn’t have a “right” to spend time with your child until they pay up. While that might seem fair to you, it’s not fair to your child. It’s also not legal.
Separating child support from custody and visitation
Whether you have sole physical custody and your co-parent has visitation rights or you share custody, a parent’s right to spend time with their child can’t be denied because they aren’t fulfilling their child support obligations. Child support isn’t ordered in exchange for a parent’s right to spend time with their child. It’s ordered to ensure that both parents take financial responsibility for their child to the extent they can.
Likewise, a parent can’t refuse to pay their court-ordered child support because they aren’t able to see their child (perhaps because they’ve been denied visitation rights) or choose not to see them. They still have a financial obligation. Further, a parent can’t withhold child support because their co-parent won’t let them see their child.
You can see how conflating child support and visitation solves nothing. It only harms the child one way or another.
Legal options for getting the child support you’re due
That’s not to say there aren’t legal options for dealing with a parent who isn’t meeting their child support obligations. Nebraska, like other states, can withhold income from a person’s paycheck for child support via an Income Withholding for Support (IWO) order.
If a parent can no longer meet their child’s support obligations, they can seek a modification. They’ll need to show evidence of a change in their financial circumstances that warrants it. While talking to your co-parent can be a good start, you shouldn’t work out an arrangement on your own that’s not codified.
You definitely shouldn’t withhold access in exchange for child support you’re due. Your course of action if you’re dealing with a co-parent who isn’t paying court-ordered child support is to seek legal guidance.