By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
If you are late on your child support payments – whether a one-time event or chronic lateness – your ex-wife cannot deny you visitation or parenting time with your children.
This is the law in every state in the U.S.
Visitation is Required
There is only one exception to this rule: Some states provide that a dad may temporarily refrain from paying child support if his ex-wife/the custodial parent has disappeared for a substantial period of time.
It makes sense that if your ex-wife has the children and she has failed to provide you with her whereabouts and that of your children, you may be exempted from child support payments until your ex-wife and the children are located.
You should not, however, arbitrarily stop paying. You must send payments to your ex-wife’s last known address until you can petition the court for any type of temporary payment stoppage.
Remember, only a few states allow payment stoppage under the above conditions.
Get Sound Advice
The most important thing to do when you owe child support payments is to see a licensed family law attorney.
He or she will contact the child support officer for your state and try to work out a plan for catching up and/or lowering your payment amount, especially if your financial situation has undergone material changes, such as a decrease in hours at work or a layoff.
Your child support attorney may also be able to negotiate a change in the date that your child support payment is due based on your ability to pay at different times during each month.
Communication is Vital
The worst thing you can do if you are late on your child support payments is nothing. The courts will construe this as a lack of willingness to pay, which may be far removed from the truth in reality.
Communication is everything, and your willingness to work with your ex-wife will put you in the best position on the legal playing field.
Visitation is Your Right
Your ex-wife must allow you to see your children regardless of the status of child support payments. Your children need you in their lives regardless of whether or your ex cooperates with you.
The courts may reprimand her for denying visitation. She may be fined, or a judge may even restructure the child custody arrangement between you and your ex-wife.
In this modern age, one ex-spouse is not supposed to exercise control over another. Both parents are of equal importance to their children.
All people occasionally go through difficult financial times, especially in the decade we are living in with the shaky American economy. It’s not your fault if you are laid off.
Communicating with your state’s child support authority about your financial situation and obtaining sound legal advice from a fathers’ rights family law attorney should place you in good stead.
Both can help you enforce your right to visitation and parenting time with your children and help you to work out a feasible child support plan where you can catch up on support arrears and remain current.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.