If you are a parent paying support for their child(ren), you may wonder just where those child support dollars are really going. Shouldn’t your ex have to account for how they spend that money?
The short answer is no. Unless your child’s needs are going unmet (and you are able to prove it), the way that they spend the child support funds is left up to their discretion.
Why is that fair?
You work hard for your money and don’t mind supporting your child(ren), but it rankles having to hand over your hard-earned dollars to your ex. This is made even worse by seeing your ex pull up to the custody exchange in a brand-new vehicle while you’re still driving your 10-year-old clunker.
The reason why your ex doesn’t have to answer to you for the way they spend the child support is because it is presumed that they use the child support to cover many expenses that benefit your child(ren), including:
- Basic necessities
- School fees
- Transportation costs (like the monthly note for that new car)
- Medical care
- Child care expenses
- Travel costs
- Extracurricular activities and entertainment
- Tuition and other educational costs
The funds can be commingled
Your ex is also not required to deposit the funds into a separate account and is free to commingle the child support funds with their own personal earnings.
You could wind up paying more than the minimum
Suppose the court orders that you pay your ex $800 in child support based on both parents’ incomes. But your child winds up testing as gifted and talented, and you prefer that they matriculate in an educational setting that best fosters your child’s gifts. If that school comes with a pricey tuition bill, you could wind up having to pay half of it if you agree they change schools.
If you suspect funds are being misused
Unfortunately, there can be instances where a parent is not spending the child support on the child and their needs. Suppose your child’s teacher confides to you that your child comes to school in dirty clothes that they’ve outgrown and has no winter jacket. If you suspect, perhaps due to a drug or alcohol addiction, that your child’s needs aren’t met, your attorney might need to petition the court for a change in custody.