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Can you withhold support as leverage to modify a parenting plan?

It is natural to believe that child support and the parenting plan are intimately connected. Often the support and parenting plans will be decided during the same dispute, but not necessarily at the same time. But you would be wrong. From a legal standpoint, support and parenting plans are two entirely different legal issues.

In fact, judges are even permitted to order support but disallow any physical access to the child, usually in instances of abuse. As such, the court takes a very dim view of parents who appear to be using their child's support payments as leverage to extract more parenting time.

A better approach is to work out a compromise with the other parent. If the other parent is unwilling to work with you, you can file an action to modify the parenting plan with the court. An attorney can help you through this process.

But what if the other parent is consistently late and interferes with your time with your child? Again, you do not want to come across as retaliatory. Instead, focus on establishing a record of the parent's tardiness and try to determine why there is a problem. You may find a more convenient schedule for both of you that results in more time with the child.

Finally, you can seek joint custody of the child. In this context, the court would only award you equal parenting control if it was in the best interests of the child. Specifically, the court will want to confirm that you and your ex-partner are willing and able to work together for the welfare of the child amicably.

If you are engaged in child custody litigation, then you should probably call a family law attorney at your earliest convenience. As you can see, the court's overriding concern is with what is in the best interests of the child. Withholding child support, from the court's perspective, only hurts the child and will often backfire if you are seeking enhanced visitation. A lawyer can put you on the right path toward modifying your parenting plan.