Child support can be one of the most contentious matters that arise during a divorce. Ironically, both ex-spouses may feel that they have valid reasons to complain about the child support arrangement. The parent paying child support may feel that the amount is too high or that the custodial parent is squandering the money rather than spending it on the child. On the other hand, the custodial parent receiving child support may feel that the amount is too low to cover the costs associated with raising a child. Clearing up two of the most common misconceptions that people have about child support and the law, may help to clear up matters.
1. There Is No Requirement To Prove How Child Support Is Spent
There are exceptions that apply in a few states, but generally speaking, the court will not compel the custodial parent to prove how he or she is spending the child support payments received or ask for any other proof. Even if the paying parent petitions the court for a disclosure of how the other parent is spending child support, the court will typically not honor that request.
Child support is not intended to be itemized. It is intended to be flexible and allow the custodial parent to take care of whatever needs may arise in regard to the child’s general wellbeing. Therefore, if the other parent has reason to believe that the custodial parent is not taking adequate care of the child’s needs, he or she may enlist the help of the court to address the question of child support spending. Nevertheless, only rarely, if ever, does this require the custodial parent to provide any type of detailed account of his or her spending.
2. Child Support Is Not Intended Only for Basic Necessities
Some parents who pay child support believe that it should only go to pay for the basic necessities to sustain a child’s life, e.g., food, clothing, and shelter. However, that is not what the law says. Rather, the law allows child support to cover all the typical expenses that often go along with raising a child. This can extend to nonessentials such as entertainment, travel/transportation, and extracurricular activities. Child support can also be used for expenses that most parents would consider important but not necessarily essential to sustain life, such as child care, education, and uninsured medical expenses.
3. Any Desired Changes Will Require New Legislation
There may be something to be said in favor of requiring parents who receive child support to prove that they are spending it responsibly or capping the amount of child support that must be paid. Such changes, however, will require states to enact new legislation.
In the meantime, one of our attorneys can explain your rights and responsibilities as it relates to child support. Contact an attorney, like a family lawyer in Lake Forest, IL, to schedule a consultation.
Thank you to the experts at Hurst, Robin & Kay, LLC., for their input into family law.