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

ex isn't paying child support
Child Support and Parenting Time are Separate

It can be frustrating when an ex isn’t paying child support. Children have many needs.  Struggling with meeting these needs day-in and day-out can take a toll on any parent.

In desperation, a parent may respond by denying parenting time to the other parent. Unfortunately, the child suffers in either scenario. However, instead of denying parenting time, Minnesota child support laws can help enforce child support orders.

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.

If there is an order for parenting time, it’s binding on both parents.  Parenting time is effectively a legal right for both in that case. Therefore, denying the other parent his or her parenting time is a violation of the order.

Parenting Time and Child Support in Minnesota

Parenting time gives children the opportunity to bond with their parents and to benefit from their love and guidance. Child support and parenting time are not considered exchangeable.

Parenting Time refers to the designated time that each parent is scheduled to be with his or her children.

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. 

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 consequences when they are not followed.

Remedies when Ex isn’t paying Child Support

There are several remedies for non-payment of child support in Minnesota.  Remedies for non-payment of child support can include:

  • Income withholding/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. 

Here’s more information about income withholding of support payments from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

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

Minnesota Parenting Time Remedies

If one parent is denying the other parent of his or her parenting time with the children, the denied can motion the court.  This motion can be for parenting time assistance, a change of custody, or even contempt.

To remedy the loss in parenting time, the court can order compensatory parenting time to the aggrieved parent. To learn about the additional consequences that can occur for unlawfully denied parenting time, see here: Parenting Time in Minnesota.

Denying Parenting Time is a Contempt of Court

There are specific legal ramifications for failing to follow a parenting time order.  Separately, there are legal consequences for failure to pay child support as ordered.

In Minnesota, a parent denied court-ordered parenting time can pursue a contempt motion. Contempt occurs when one party is in violation of a court order. In this event, that parent is vulnerable to giving compensatory time to the other parent, paying his or her attorney’s fees, and in the most extreme cases – serving jail time. Lastly, consistent and willful denial of parenting time can be grounds for a change in custody.

Therefore, if an ex isn’t paying child support, don’t violate a parenting time order by denying parenting time. Instead, there are separate remedies for failure to pay child support . A family law attorney will explore the child support remedies listed above with you, and can ensure the court enforces your child support order. 

For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page.  If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page.