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Dealing with an ex: Child support and visitation should be separate

By Jann Blackstone –

Q: Do I have to let my ex see our 4-year-old son if he is behind on his child support? He does see him regularly — two or three times a week and every other weekend, but the ex has been out of work and is so behind on his support payments that I think it’s wrong that he sees our son so often. What’s good ex-etiquette?

A: Visitation and child support are two completely separate issues and it’s very bad ex-etiquette to hold your child as hostage until dad pays up. I do understand how important it is to receive child support on time, but if dad was paying, then got behind because he’s out of work, you’re not receiving the support because he’s flaking, it’s because he’s like thousands of others in this economy and he just doesn’t have the money.

You, of course, are not alone in your feelings that support and time with a child relate, but legally, they really don’t. You can’t prevent your son from seeing his father based on the fact dad’s not paying support. Plus, you have to consider how your child will be affected if you prevent time with his dad. Your son is used to being with his father almost 50 percent of the time. At some point you thought dad was a good enough father to agree with that much time as being in the best interest of your son. Now, because you are frustrated that dad cannot pay, you are proposing that it’s not in your child’s best interest to spend time with his dad. Very short sided — and very bad ex-etiquette, indeed. I just hope you are not saying anything to your son about his father’s inability to pay. Child support should not be your child’s concern and should not be discussed with him — ever.

So what can you do to get your child support payments on time? Truth is, if dad’s not working, not much. Lately I have heard from exes on good terms who said they barter for home repairs, yard work or car repairs (dad was a mechanic) and they report that took off some of the burden for a while — and since support is supposed to be for the child, keeping the car running so he or she can get to school or practices is in the child’s best interest. However, if exes are not on good terms, attempting that sort of negotiation is ridiculous. Plus, if child support is court ordered, agreeing to something in lieu of support may not affect the amount of support owed. Get legal advice first!

Finally, if dad has been out of work for a while, he may want to petition the court for a reduction in support so that the back payments don’t continue to mount up. That may not make you happy, but you did ask “What’s good ex-etiquette?” Good ex-etiquette rule No. 1 is, “Put the children first.”

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BS… a “Good” father WILL find a way to support his children. Many “deadbeats” find ways around paying child support, which is usually not that much to begin with. These are the ones that should not be allowed visitation. Many rack up tens of thousands of dollars in arrears and and still think they can show up on their doorstep with a smile on their face, while the mother and struggle to get by.

I will not give my name only because I don’t want my children to be embarrassed. I had a ex husband that was a dead beat dad as they say. I never once would have kept my children from their father because of him not paying. It is the children you must think of. I know their dad loved them but money was always his dream. He chased the all might dollar for years. He never did catch it. He went from job to job. When child support caught up with him he would quit and find another job this went on for years. If I would have made it hard for my children to see their dad it would have hurt them more than him. It is only money did I have a lot of money no was I on welfare for about 3 months then got off. I have a disability so I live on SS. My children got money because of me being on SS so that is what got us through. The thing I hate the most with him not paying I had to use the children SS money to help support us. If he would have paid I would have saved that money so they could go to college. He passed away with a 35,000.00 dollar past child support bill do me but I can honestly say he was as good as dad as he knew how to be and his children loved him and they grew up with knowing what it was like having a mother and father that love them.

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