Why Refusing to Pay Child Support Is a Bad IdeaThere are many non-custodial parents who are frustrated in their attempts to exercise visitation or parenting time with their minor children. The causes of this lack of access may be linked to a lack of cooperation by the other parent, disparaging comments made in front of the children, or geographic distance that makes exercising parenting time difficult for the parent who does not have primary physical custody. Some parents frustrated in their attempts to spend time with their kids will suspend child support payments or threaten to do so until the other parent cooperates in providing access to their kids.

While the frustration experienced by a parent in this situation is understandable, the inability to exercise visitation or parenting time does not legally justify discontinuing child support payments. Further, this form of self-help can have dire consequences that include:

Higher Monthly Child Support Payments:

The lack of access to minor children will not impact the obligation to pay child support, so the obligated parent will continue to accrue past due arrearages during this time. When payments resume your payment will generally be higher because it will include both the current monthly child support amount plus an additional contribution toward arrearages.

Exposure to High Interest Rates:

The unpaid balance of child support can grow rapidly because of high rates of interest that are assessed for past due child support payments. The interest rate for child support arrearages in New Mexico is 8.75% annually which can cause the unpaid balance owed to balloon quickly.

Oppressive Enforcement Tools:

Child support authorities like the New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) or a family law judge may use extremely aggressive collection tools that include intercepting tax returns, wage assignments, bank account levies, suspension of driver’s licenses, or professional licenses and even jail time based on contempt of court.

Parents who are denied time with their children and resort to discontinuing child support can compound the problem by not taking any action to adjust child support or resume their parenting time. If you have changed jobs and no new wage assignment has been filed, it might be tempting to assume “no news is good news” in terms of no action being taken to re-establish the wage garnishment. Parents in this situation often delay rocking the boat by seeking court relief to re-establish their parenting time. This can prove to be a costly mistake.

The other parent may allow time to pass, then file to modify the parenting plan and child support based on the fact that you have not been exercising parenting time. If the custody orders change so that you have less time with your kids, the child support order will typically increase. The other parent may justify such a change in the parenting plan based on your lack of involvement with the kids. Although the other parent may have been uncooperative, your failure to take action to resume your parenting time may make it appear that you voluntarily stopped exercising parenting time.

Dealing with a Parent Who Disregards New Mexico Custody and Visitation Orders

The above information is designed solely to illustrate general principles of law, and does not constitute a specific legal opinion on individual cases. We suggest that you contact experienced legal counsel for a specific opinion tailored to your individual circumstances.

The bottom line is that if you are not being allowed access to your children under a court order, you may want to obtain immediate legal advice regarding the merits of scheduling a court hearing to enforce your rights to exercise parenting time. The strategy of discontinuing child support is a tactic that will almost invariably backfire. Jay Goodman & Associates offers a free consultation in our centrally located offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque so that we can discuss your situation and answer your questions. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (505) 989-8117 to learn about your rights and options.


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