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Can your ex tell you what to do with child support?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2023 | Child support

You had a fairly contentious divorce, and now your ex-spouse seems determined to make your co-parenting relationship equally difficult.

Lately, they’re demanding that you give them an accounting of how every dollar of the child support you receive is spent – and they have some definite opinions on what is an “allowable” expense and what isn’t. They’re threatening to withhold support entirely until they’re “sure” that you’re spending the money solely on your child and not yourself.

Child support isn’t an optional payment that your ex controls

A lot of people who pay child support don’t quite understand how the system works. Both parents have an obligation to provide for their children and to make sure that the children maintain a standard of living comparable to what they would have had if the divorce never happened.

Child support is designed to help pay for a child’s basic living expenses. Since this includes things like their food, shelter, utility bills, cable and other household costs, the money is typically not spent “solely” for the child’s benefit – in as much as the parent receiving support may also benefit.

In other words, the money your ex pays in support doesn’t have to go only for things that your child alone needs, such as their school supplies, clothing, shoes and entertainment. While some of the support may go that way, the majority can also be funneled into the household operating costs.

Nor can your co-parent demand an accounting and refuse to pay if they don’t get it. Child support orders aren’t optional. If your ex-spouse has genuine concerns about how the money is being used, they are free to bring the issue up to the court.

Money can cause a lot of conflicts in a marriage – and it can continue to cause conflicts long after the divorce is over. This is particularly true when one spouse has to pay child support to the other. If you’re struggling with a child support enforcement issue, it’s probably time to seek some experienced legal guidance.