Child support is too often a contentious issue during a divorce. While it exists as a means of benefiting the child or children from the marriage, it often becomes a tool used by the parents to “punish” each other.

The parent who pays often objects because they feel as if their child support payments benefit the other parent. The parent receiving the payments may attempt to use access to the children as a weapon to force payment, withholding access when a payment is late or missed.

The legislature in Missouri, and in all states, has determined that with the birth of a child comes the responsibility to provide financial support for that child. This responsibility arises whether married or not, but because divorce is the formal mechanism used to dissolve a marriage, it also must allocate child support obligations for those parents.

Because child support is tied to child custody, the best way to avoid child support battles is to clearly think about your children’s future in a holistic fashion. Your want to think about how your parenting plan divides parenting responsibilities and how you can use that plan to create the best environment for your children to grow and thrive.

Petty squabbles involving withholding of child support payments or access to the children are not a means of improving your children’s family experience.

Of course, after your child support plan is in place, if you suffer a substantial change in circumstance that makes it impossible to maintain your payment level, you should consult an attorney and discuss how to obtain a modification of the child support order.

While money should not be seen as a proxy for love, few children will ever feel love or affection by having their child support payments withheld.

Source:, “Column: Children pay price of non-support,” Judge Amy Searcy, August 13, 2014