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Can your ex use presents in place of child support?

| Dec 17, 2020 | Family Law |

Every year, the holiday season can put parents in a financial bind. Most parents go out of their way to make the holidays as joyful as possible for their kids — and that means spending a lot of extra money for gifts.

Now, your ex just informed you that they can’t afford to pay their child support this month because they’ve used that money for gifts. You’re furious, of course, but they insist that they have that right. Do they?

The payor can’t dictate how child support is spent

Child support represents a parent’s minimum financial obligation to their offspring. Typically, it’s designed to cover a child’s basic needs, like food, shelter, clothing, medical care and school supplies.

The paying parent, however, doesn’t get to dictate how the money is used. Most of the time, child support is rolled into the household funds that the recipient parent uses to pay the bills. Absent any order to the contrary, that parent isn’t required to account for every dollar so long as the child’s needs are met.

If your ex uses the child support money to buy gifts for the kids, that’s essentially the same as dictating how the money is spent. Further, it deprives you of the money you likely need to maintain your household.

You can hold a non-paying parent accountable

You can let your ex know that their plan is not acceptable. If they want to buy the kids gifts, that’s great — but they still have the same child support obligation as always. If they refuse to pay, you can take them back to court and enforce the order.

If child support issues are causing havoc in your life, it may be time to get some help. An attorney can help you navigate these troubled waters.