What if Your Ex Is Misusing Child Support Payments?

By Law Office of Karen S. Brown

Divorce comes with a ton of changes and new beginnings, especially if children are involved. One of the most unsettling aspects of the divorce is usually a change in the children’s living arrangements going forward. In California, one of the judgments the court will make is how child support payments will be made.

A child support payment is binding. But what if it comes to your attention that your ex is diverting child support payments for other uses?

The Purpose of Child Support

Child support payments should be used for financing the child’s daily needs such as food, clothing, healthcare and education among others. However, it is important to understand that these payments can also go towards other expenses that are not directly related to the child, as long as such expenses advance the child’s best interests. For instance, your ex is within their legal rights to spend child support on gas to drive the child somewhere.

Does Your Ex Have to Document how They Spend Child Support?

Not necessarily. The law does not require the receiving parent to provide a breakdown of how they are spending the child support money. However, just because this is not a requirement in law does not mean that you are out of options if you believe your ex is misappropriating the funds. For instance, if the child’s basic needs are not being met, then you may have a case against the custodial parent. Here are some of the signs you might want to look for if you believe your ex is misusing child support:

  • When there are changes in the child’s hygiene and appearance

  • When the child is unusually starving or when their school lunch account is depleted and hasn’t been refilled despite reminders

  • When the child’s medical and dental appointments are missed for no clear reason

Generally, if the custodial parent is not taking care of the child, then you need to be concerned.

Child support payments are meant to ensure that the child has the financial resources they need to grow and thrive. If your ex isn’t spending child support to benefit the child, then you need to bring the matter to the attention of the court.