Divorce is not a game of chess. Property, stock accounts, and other possessions are not pieces that can be moved around the board to strategically pressure one side into following the wishes of the other. Yet many spouses fail to understand this. In the eyes of some ex-husbands and ex-wives, the fire of divorce can only be fought with more fire. This vengeful attitude can turn even the simplest divorce into an ugly game of tit-for-tat. If Husband, for example, takes possession of the house following separation, Wife may then seek “revenge” by trying to secure control of an equally valuable asset like a valued car, a vacation home or something that the Husband finds particularly valuable. Husband may then strike back in an equally petty way by trying to gain control of Wife’s prized jewelry set. This action may then perpetuate the cycle of revenge, causing it to continue indefinitely.
If a couple wants to spend (or waste) time playing the game of revenge, that is ultimately their own decision. When it comes to children, though, the law is adamant that petty efforts by either spouse to “get back” at the other are unacceptable. One parent cannot interfere with the other’s custodial time as an act of revenge (or for any reason). If a parent does interfere, the court may deal with the interfering parent with jail time or a fine. Judges may also use interference as grounds for changing child custody arrangements. Therefore, it is important for a parent who believes the other is tampering with visitation to avoid seeking revenge through similar means. For example, a parent cannot withhold child support payments until the interfering parent grants reasonable visitation. It is a well-known rule that child support cannot be tied to child visitation rights any more than one parent can withhold the child until support payments are made. Children are not pawns and are not to be treated as such.
It is indeed wrong to do either of these things (withholding money or time), and there are remedies available through the courts to ensure compliance with orders regarding payment of support and timeshare. To tie these two together though in an attempt to cloak this wrongdoing with a level of “justification” is the worst response possible and it will be dealt with harshly by the court. The proper recourse is to seek professional legal help from a family law attorney. He or she can then bring the issues before the Court, which will wither modify the Order or take additional action.