When orders are issued in divorce and custody proceedings, they outline requirements that both parents must follow. When one parent violates the terms of an order or an agreement, it can be aggravating for the other parent who was acting responsibly. In this type of situation, it can be tempting for innocent parents to take matters into their own hands. But self-help is rarely the answer in divorce or child custody matters.
When a divorce arrangement is made, one parent is generally ordered to pay child support. In most cases, the parent who earns more income pays support even when the parents share equal custody and equal parenting time with the child. This enables the child to share in the standard of living of both of parents. Child support is determined by guidelines, and parents cannot contribute less than the guidelines. If a parent tries to pay less support than ordered by the court, misses a payment or refuses to pay, the other parent can ask the court to enforce the order.
There are many types of penalties for failure to pay child support, including fines and imprisonment. The courts may enforce support payments through:
- Wage garnishment
- Seizing assets or property
- Issuing liens
Because of this, self-help is not the answer. Clearly, the risk for failure to pay child support is not worth the reward of punishing your ex-spouse or enforcing custody orders yourself. Plus, it isn’t fair to the child who is caught in the middle.
Instead of self-help, parents seeking to enforce custody and visitation arrangements should rely on their lawyers and the courts. As with violations of support orders, a spouse who violates a custody order may be punished for contempt of court, which can also involve fines or imprisonment. If you have questions about child support, child custody or modification and enforcement of orders, do not hesitate to contact an experienced New York family law attorney.