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Do I have to provide an accounting for child support?

Aug 17, 2020 | Child Support

Parents can struggle with disputes long after they divorce and go their separate ways. One common conflict that parents can face under these circumstances involves the spending of child support.

For instance, if you receive child support, the other parent could accuse you of misusing his or her financial contributions. He or she might even demand that you provide an accounting of your spending. Do you have to do this? The answer is likely no.

What child support covers

Generally, child support is money to support the well-being of a child. It ensures both parents contribute financially to securing necessities for a child, from clothing and school supplies to groceries and a place to live.

It does not cover everything you might expect, though. Unless you specifically addressed specific expenses in an agreement, child support is not required to cover expenses like babysitters, camps or extracurricular activity fees.

However, when many people receive child support, they often put it in the bank alongside their other money. They typically do not earmark it specifically for these expenses. Further, recipient parents do not necessarily wait for a support check to buy something for their child; they buy what they need and use the support check as reimbursement.

Therefore, courts often do not require parents to provide an accounting for how they spend child support.

Exceptions and other options

There are some situations in which the courts could ask for an accounting. This could be the case if there are concerns that a parent fails to provide adequately for the child. For instance, if a custodial parent is taking vacations without a child or abusing drugs or alcohol while a child goes without the things that he or she needs to feel safe and happy, it could be possible for the non-custodial parent to request an accounting.

If you pay child support and worry your ex is misusing this money, you could work with an attorney to examine legal remedies, including support modification.

If you receive child support and your ex is attempting to control how you use it, especially if he or she is withholding support, you could seek help in enforcing the court’s order.