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Ex isn’t paying child support, can I deny parenting time?

It’s incredibly difficult and frustrating when an ex isn’t paying child support when it’s been court-ordered. Watching your child’s basic needs go unmet and struggling day-in and day-out to get by takes it’s toll on a parent. In desperation, the parent denies parenting time to the other parent as a ‘last resort’ attempt to get the other parent to pay child support. Unfortunately, the child suffers in either scenario. However, instead of denying the other parent his/her time with the child, find out how Minnesota child support laws can help you get your child the support s/he deserves. 
ex isn't paying child support

Can I deny parenting time when Ex isn’t paying child support?  

In Minnesota, a parent cannot legally deny parenting time because the other parent is not paying child support. In other words, it’s illegal to deny parenting time to a parent who has parenting time, even when that parent isn’t paying child support. It’s illegal because if there is an order for parenting time, it’s assumed that it’s in the child’s best interests to have stable and consistent access to both parents. Thus, denying the other parent his/her parenting time, due to a lack of child support, would be a violation of the parenting time order. 

ex isn't paying child support

Parenting Time and Child Support

Parenting time gives children the opportunity to bond with their parents and to benefit from their love and guidance. Parenting time is not considered exchangeable for child support.

It may be helpful to think of child support and parenting time as two separate orders from the court. Both court orders need to be followed and each order has separate ramifications when they are not followed.

Minnesota Parenting Time and Remedies

Parenting Time refers to the designated time that each parent is scheduled to be with his/her children. Therefore, the children should be with one parent during his/her parenting time, and with the other parent during his/her parenting time. 

ex isn't paying child support

If one parent is denying the other parent of his/her parenting time with the children, the parent who isn’t being allowed to spend time with his/her children can motion the court for parenting time assistance. To remedy the loss in parenting time, the court can order and award additional parenting time for the other parent to compensate for the parenting time that s/he missed out on with the children. To learn about the additional consequences that can occur if you unwarrantedly deny parenting time, check out: Parenting Time in Minnesota. 

On the other hand, if a parent is not spending time with his/her children during his/her parenting time, the other parent can motion the court because the other parent is not fulfilling his/her parenting time. In this case, legal remedies can include changing the parenting schedule (which can also affect child support calculations), contempt, attorney’s fees, asking for restriction or supervision of parenting time (when appropriate), or in some cases a custody switch.

Remedies for Non-Payment of Child Support in Minnesota

Child Support refers to the financial obligation one parent must pay to the other parent for the support of the child’s basic needs, medical needs, and child care costs. 

ex isn't paying child support

If a parent isn’t paying child support, there are several remedies for non-payment.

Remedies for non-payment of child support can include:

  • Income withholding/Compulsory wage garnishment (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518A.53),
  • Tax interception by Revenue Recapture (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518A.61),
  • Civil contempt (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518A.71),
  • Driver’s license suspension (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518A.65),
  • Recreational license suspension (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518A.68),
  • Occupational license suspension (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518A.66),
  • Motor vehicle lien (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518A.67),
  • Employer contempt (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518A.73),
  • Community service (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518A.72, Subdivision 2),
  • Attorney fees and other costs incurred (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518A.735),
  • Public naming of individual delinquent on child support by the Department of Human Services (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518A.74),
  • Court-Ordered Employment (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518A.64), and others. 

ex isn't paying child support

In addition, if a parent already has a child support order in place, s/he can contact the county child support office about enforcement services and get additional help with collecting child support. The county not only has a wide variety of resources available to help enforce child support awards, but provides such services at a low cost to the parent. (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518A.51). 

ex isn't paying child support

Denying Parenting Time is a Contempt of Court

Thus, there are specific legal ramifications if you don’t follow a parenting time order or if you’re not paying child support as ordered. In Minnesota, if you deny a parent access during his/her court-ordered parenting time (regardless of if your ex isn’t paying child support), you can be found in contempt of court. This leaves you vulnerable to giving compensatory time to the other parent, paying his/her attorney’s fees, and in the most extreme cases – serving jail time. In addition, consistent and willful denial of parenting time can also be grounds for a change in custody.

ex isn't paying child support

Therefore, don’t violate your parenting time order by denying access of the children, in order to try to get the other parent to follow the child support order. Instead, do what’s in your best interests and your child’s best interests and explore the other potential remedies listed above that are available to you.