Father’s Day is just around the corner, and it seems as though some people might need a little reminder about what this day is all about. It’s about celebrating the priceless contributions and the sacrifices that dads make in our lives. It’s about honoring the father-child relationship that is so vital in life.
Instead of gearing up for celebration, some have chosen to use this time as a way to enforce child support orders and perpetuate the stereotype of the “deadbeat” dad. In one jurisdiction outside of Florida, dads even received a text message that said “Looking for the ideal Father’s Day gift? Make a child support payment!!!” The kicker is that a lot of these messages were even sent to dads that were current on their support obligations.
Using Father’s Day as a platform to target unpaid child support is not only “offensive,” as one dad put it, but it may also be illegal under certain circumstances.
To understand this latter discussion, it is important to note that child support and child custody are two separate issues. Parents equally have a right to visitation and an obligation to support their child. This does not change simply because a court grants sole custody or designates one parent as the one writing the check under a support order.
Unfortunately, this distinct line can get blurred a bit. A parent that withholds visitation granted in a custody agreement as a way to enforce support payments is perpetuating an illegal activity. Interference with child visitation is something that Florida courts take seriously, and those put in this position should consult with an attorney immediately.
In situations in which a child support obligation is extremely difficult or even impossible to follow -- so often due to circumstances out of their control -- fathers do have options. An Orlando father’s rights attorney can help dads request a modification based on a substantial change in circumstances.
Source: NBC 10, “Text Tells Dads to Pay Child Support as “Ideal Father’s Day Gift”,” June 6, 2014