One of the biggest misconceptions divorced couples have is that they can withhold access to the minor children if the non-custodial parent is not paying child support. In Ontario, as well as throughout Canada, child access and child support are separate legal matters.
People mistakenly assume just because one parent is breaking their agreement, the other can do the same. Yet, both parents can get into serious trouble with the Courts and FRO (Family Responsibility Office) when they fail to meet their child support obligations and refuse access to their minor children.
Part of the reason parents take it upon themselves to not pay child support or withhold visitation is because of the unresolved issues that result in an unwillingness to follow these agreements. To understand more about this issue you should discuss it with our expert divorce lawyer in Ottawa.
What Can I Do If My Ex Refuses to Pay Child Support?
The first thing not to do is withhold visitation. You still need to let your ex have access to the minor children as agreed upon in the child access agreement. While it can be tempting to bring up the issue of unpaid child support when exchanging the children, it should be avoided in front of the children. This could give the children a negative view of the non-custodial parent, which could come back to hurt you later, should you end up back in court.
The best thing to do is to contact your divorce lawyer and get their assistance in resolving the matter. Your lawyer will contact the FRO and find out if they are aware of the matter and what they are doing to collect child support. In some cases, even with FRO involvement, it may be necessary to go back to Court.
What Can I Do If My Ex Is Refusing Access?
If your ex is refusing access to your children, you need to contact your divorce lawyer for assistance. Your lawyer can file a motion in court to bring the matter in front of a judge. You should continue to make support payments even though you currently do not have access to avoid getting into trouble yourself.
What If My Ex Is Spending the Child Support on Themselves – Not the Children?
Sadly, current laws do not require the custodial parent to disclose how they are spending money received through child support payments. If the needs of the children are being met, the courts will not get involved. However, if your children’s needs are not being met, then that is another matter entirely. Yet again, you would need to take the matter back to court with help from your divorce lawyer.
Child support and child access are treated as separate legally binding agreements. Parents cannot decide to ignore those agreements or take matters into their own hands just because their ex is not paying support or is refusing access.