Denial of custodial time and change of support


#1

I am a divorced father of a 12-year-old. I live in Wake County, and the mother lives in Forsythe County. We do not have an order for child support or custody, so nothing is clearly defined. For the past two years, I have taken my daughter every other weekend and for a few weeks in the summer. I pick her up from the mother’s house after work on Friday, drive to my home, and then drive her back to her mother’s house on Sunday evening. This is a 90+ minute drive each way, so a three-hour round trip for me on Sundays.

Over the past several months, the mother has given our daughter the right to make her own decision about whether or not she visits with me. Unless I promise to do what my daughter wants on the weekend… amusement park, movies, bowling, etc… she tells her mother that she does not want to come with me. The mother has said that she is 12 now and old enough to decide for herself. Needless to say, I completely disagree. But since she is with her mother the majority of the time, and if I want to see my daughter, I have to give her what she wants.

I have been paying $850 monthly in support for approximately a year, which was roughly what the child support worksheet calculated. Recently, my ex moved in with her boyfriend and no longer has the same living expenses. I agreed to pay her what I did because of her situation, which has now changed.

Questions:

  1. Does the mother have rights regarding custody of our daughter that I do not? How do I best handle the denial of my custodial time?
  2. Does the court ever make parents “meet in the middle” when there is a lengthy commute between households?
  3. Would the ex moving in with her boyfriend be considered a substantial change in circumstances? Can I adjust my payment since my ex now has a significant improvement in lifestyle and is receiving additional income from her live-in boyfriend?
  4. What would be likely to happen to me if I stop paying my ex until we get all of the official details worked out in a custody/consent/child support order? Besides going to court, the only thing that would encourage her to let me see my daughter without interference is withholding money. Would I have to pay in arrears? Would I be penalized in some way? Or would I just be warned by the court not to do it again?

Thank you!


#2

You both have equal rights to your child. If your ex refuses to provide you access to your child, you should file an action and have the court order an appropriate schedule.
Often times, depending on the individual circumstances, the court does divide travel time necessary to facilitate visitation.
The ex’s reduction in expenses is not a factor to reduce support. Child support is based on the income of the parties , child insurance costs, and day care expenses.
I do not recommend that you stop paying support. Your ex could file an action for the same, and a refusal to pay on your part will not look good in court.