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When so ordered by the court, payment of child support by a non-custodial parent is mandatory in California. The child support payments are intended to assist a custodial parent with raising and providing for a child. The payments can be essential to a parent who faces the high costs associated with raising children such as clothing, schooling and basic needs.

When the child support payments that are expected each month fail to arrive, it can create significant hardships for a custodial parent. The financial burden can make it tempting for a custodial parent in California to begin to deny visitation rights of the non-paying parent. However, according to some authorities, this may be a bad idea due to the affect it could have on the kids and their relationship with the non-custodial parent. Additionally, child support and visitation are two separate legal areas.

For some families a barter system may have helped to alleviate some of the financial difficulties created by an inability to pay child support. Another benefit to this type of system is that it can allow a non-custodial parent additional time with a child. For example, a non-custodial parent may be able to repair a family home or car. This act can both save a custodial parent money and benefit a child who needs a place to live or a parent with a car to take the child to activities.

No barter system between parents can work unless the ex-spouses are able to negotiate such an agreement. For some, this may be impossible. Regardless of whether or not a custodial parent accepts barters from their ex-spouse, it does not change the monetary amount owed in child support. Only a court can make modifications to a child support arrangement.

In many cases, especially when payments fall behind due to loss of a job, injury, or other financial downturn, modification or repayment options may be available. It is important that parents use the proper channels however to ensure that they and their children are protected, and that fairness is considered for both parents. To do this, it may benefit California parents to seek the guidance of someone experienced working through child support modifications, rather than attempting to bypass the legal system.

Source: TwinCities.com, "Ex-Etiquette: Child support and visitation should be separate," Jann Blackstone, Aug. 13, 2012

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