Traditionally the answer to this question would be no, alimony is not equivalent to paying admittance to your children, but a contribution to their education and upbringing. However, many divorced parents find it very unfair having to pay monthly maintenance if there is no access to the child or the other parent is actively blocking normal visitation and a healthy relationship with both parents.
Recently, the Dutch court of Appeal in The Hague addressed this issue head on. While reiterating that it is a parent’s responsibility to pay for the care and education of their minor children, the court found that the behaviour of the mother had been so outrageously negative over the past years that it was no longer fair and equitable that the ex-husband should continue paying her spousal alimony.
In short, the mother had poisoned the children against their father to the point that they only responded to his attempts at contact with swearwords, which the mother actively encouraged and joined in on with a fake account in her daughter’s name. She withheld post and presents, and even after a time out of a year recommended by child protection services (after an unfounded accusation of sexual abuse), never made any attempt to restore visitation or any kind of relationship between children and father. Only after his eldest daughter turned 18 and made contact with her father, did the father find out these details.
The court’s ruling is one of the first in its kind and may yet be overturned by the Dutch supreme court. However, it sends a clear signal that a parent’s bad behaviour can have real financial consequences. In this case the mother previously received about € 3,000 in spousal maintenance a month besides child maintenance (which remained unchanged).
Particularly when you are living in different countries, it can be difficult to maintain ties between the parent living abroad and the children. If a parent is actively sabotaging this relationship, there are also other means of forcing that parent to cooperate. For example, you could bring injunction proceedings demanding a financial penalty if the parent is not allowing contact (in person, via Skype, phone etc.). Or you can involve child protection services to assess what is in the best interests of the children.
If you are affected by this issue, please feel free to contact us for advice. Just stopping paying alimony will not usually solve the problem, but make things worse.