Few areas of family law are more contentious than child support. This is evident in how people commonly react to paying a court-ordered obligation that exceeds what society deems fair. Child support offices are there to enforce court orders made in the best interests of the children involved, and nothing more.
Children deserve the emotional and financial support of both parties who brought them into this world. An unfortunate yet all too common reality in family law is that one parent is usually deeply involved in a child’s life, and the other is absentee. Even still, child support is not a tool to punish anyone; it is designed to provide the same quality of life two people would offer their child if married.
Now that we have reiterated what most of humanity knows about child support, let us discuss the misconstrued notion that alienating another parent is the primary goal of financial support.
Parenting schedules, visitation or the lack thereof have always been, and always will be, separate from child support – not because children are not deserving of both financial and emotional support, but because one’s ability to parent is not always congruent with one’s ability to work. Courts recognized this years ago, so instead of putting children on state aid and pushing another parent away, judges decide each component separately.
If and when visitation schedules are created, they are legally enforceable orders. Contempt charges can be brought to the custodial parent for refusing to abide by the parent time schedule unless good reason exists to withhold the child (ren) from the other parent.
Alienation is the end product of willful noncompliance of court-ordered visitation on either side – not the tough decision initiated by the custodial parent to keep a child from provable danger.
This reiterates what society knows about visitation. Let us wrap it all together.
Child support attorneys will handle establishment of orders. They will handle modifications, adoptions, enforcement of support, visitation, and most other issues for either custodial or noncustodial parents. Courts will perform hearings initiated by attorneys or pro se litigants.
There is no law specifying punishment for alienation since it is the end result of numerous violations of court orders, or the custodial parent’s desire to move far away. In this case, there is no law preventing such spontaneity provided the other parent is notified, and a hearing is (normally) scheduled.
However, Michigan has legislation in place that favors the child and is enforceable against either parent. More importantly, it is a felony punishable up to one year and one day in jail. (Read about that here). Basically, one cannot withhold a child from another parent for longer than 24 hours if the intent is to detain or conceal the child from another parent – yes, even the noncustodial parent.
Child support, despite its perceived ambiguity, is not used to punish or promote alienation. Courts will never suggest custodial parents abscond with their child to avoid visitation with a noncustodial parent who pays support on time.
Whatever social platforms are telling you that alienation is allowed but missing child support payments is not may only be partially right. Withholding money from children you are not permitted to visit is never fine, nor is alienating kids from noncustodial parents acceptable because you have taken another love interest into your home and want the outside parent far, far away. They are legally dissimilar, however, as one is legally enforceable without a court hearing, while the other is merely a notion until an order is violated.
Child support was not designed to drive a wedge between the noncustodial parent and child. Believing it does wastes precious time that could be spent establishing a visitation schedule.
A knowledgeable attorney from the Van Den Heuvel Law Office may assist custodial parents with establishing and enforcing child support orders while helping both parents with adoption and other matters.
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