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Can your ex control how you spend child support?

On Behalf of | Nov 13, 2023 | Child Custody |

Establishing boundaries with your co-parent isn’t always easy, especially when they feel like they should still have a say in what you do because they’re paying child support.

It’s not unusual for an ex-spouse or ex-partner who pays child support to scrutinize every expenditure the parent receiving support makes. For example, if you buy a new outfit or get your haircut, you may hear snarky comments about how you’re living off “their money.” They may even demand an accounting of how you’re spending every dime they contribute toward your child’s care.

Do they have that right? Here’s what you need to know:

The benefit to the child doesn’t have to be exclusive

Child support is always designed to benefit the children for whom the monies are paid. However, that doesn’t mean that the money cannot be used in ways that also benefit the children’s custodial parent. 

For example, child support can be used for things like the child’s clothes, shoes, electronics, school supplies, medical bills and entertainment. Those all directly benefit the child. However, child support can also be used to pay for the rent or mortgage where the child lives, the utilities, the vehicle that their parent uses to transport them and other things that also happen to benefit the entire household – while also indirectly benefiting the child.

Once the child support money is turned over to you, your ex has no authority to dictate how the money is spent – nor can they demand an accounting. If they’re genuinely concerned that the child support is being misused and the children are going without, they can raise the issue with the court.

Child support issues can be a huge source of conflict between co-parents. If you find yourself in a situation where the issue is becoming heated, it may be time to find legal support.