For many divorced parents, summer vacation offers time for extended visitation with their children. Without the time constraints of school and extracurricular activities, parents who are only able to see their children once a week and on weekends have the opportunity to spend weeks or months with them during the school break.
While extended summer visitation is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the bond with your children and enjoy quantity and quality time together, it often puts the child-support paying parent in a dilemma. Because child support payments in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana are monthly and year round, the parent who is enjoying summer visitation with the children can be left feeling like they are paying double: the child support payments and the actual expenses they incur having the child live with them.
Can a parent who has extended summer visitation simply stop making payments during the months that he or she has visitation with the child?
NO! A parent can never unilaterally modify the child support judgment without the approval of the Court. Child support in Louisiana is calculated by statute and intended to help pay for basic living necessities and expenses such as rent, utilities and insurance. These expenses are ongoing even if the child is temporarily living with the other parent and so is the obligation to pay child support. If the parent stops paying child support, he or she is at risk to be found in Contempt of Court and could wind up having to pay a fine or even face jail time!
So what can you do? If you are in the process of setting your child support, use a mediator and let them help you and your spouse work out a plan to vary the child support payments during extended visitation periods when day to day expenses for the child will shift to you. Have your attorney put this in the child support judgment. If you already have a child support order, talk to your spouse about modifying it by agreement to vary the amounts when you have primary responsibility for the children. Using a mediator can help you and your spouse reach an agreement that works well for your family and is fair to everyone. Remember any type of child support modification must be approved by the court and reduced to writing and put an order and signed by the judge. Otherwise, an informal agreement with your spouse may leave you open for contempt of court should their be a disagreement. We can help you for a flat fee to draft a consent judgment reflecting your agreement.