Time-sharing and child support are not interdependent

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2024 | Time - Sharing Law

Some of the most serious battles for some ex-spouses who are co-parenting their children involve a failure to comply with child support orders and lack of compliance regarding custody (or “time-sharing,” as it’s called in Florida) orders. Many parents will even opt to withhold one if they aren’t receiving the other. Yet, support and time-sharing are not interdependent under the law. They’re two separate court orders – both intended for a child’s well-being.

A parent doesn’t pay child support in exchange for access to their child. Parents who have little or no right to see their child may still have to pay child support because both parents have a responsibility to provide for their child after divorce to the best of their ability. On the other hand, if a parent is disabled or ill and unable to pay child support, that doesn’t mean they can’t have time-sharing rights.

It can certainly seem unfair and wrong that a parent can show up to take their child for their scheduled time but fail to pay support that they’re perfectly capable of paying. The same is true if a parent is paying support as ordered and their co-parent is always making excuses for why their child isn’t available. If either of these things is happening and parents can’t resolve the matter on their own, they need to notify the court. Intentional failure to comply with a court order is considered contempt of court, which is illegal.

Why the court needs to be involved

If either a support order or the time-sharing order isn’t working for one or both parents, it may be possible to seek a modification. Both support and time-sharing are ordered for the child’s well-being, so the court needs to approve any changes – even temporary ones.

With that said, if a parent who is paying support can pay and just isn’t, there are ways that the support can be collected – for example, by garnishing their paycheck. If they can’t pay because they’ve lost their job or are dealing with a serious medical issue, the court may make a temporary modification. If a parent is withholding a child from their co-parent, they may face court sanctions.

The bottom line is that any parent who’s dealing with one of these issues and can’t resolve it with their co-parent should get legal guidance. This can help them protect their rights and their child’s best interests.