How do I know the child support is being spent properly? Most parents assume in good faith that the child support they pay to the custodial parent is being used for the care and betterment of their child. In most cases, this assumption is completely correct, but not every parent acts responsibly and in good faith with the child support funds they receive. Some will use the money to support their own standard of living and spending habits and may even prioritize these over the cost of child care. This can raise the question: how can you know if the child support funds are being allocated properly or if your contribution is being misused?
A noncustodial parent carrying the financial burden of following their agreed-upon child support guidelines may face a number of challenges depending on their specific financial situation. It is understood, however, that meeting your child support obligation and paying the child support award as agreed is important to the health, safety, and quality of upbringing your child receives. Since the system has no direct oversight of the way child support funds are spent, it can be difficult to determine if the money you are contributing for child maintenance and care is being used in the manner you agreed to.
If you suspect the custodial parent is taking advantage of you, you should turn to advice from an experienced child support lawyer to determine what options you may have. Contact a qualified Orland Park child support lawyer at Tommalieh Law with any questions you have regarding your child support issues and let us provide you with legal advice on child support to lay out your different options moving forward. Call us today or schedule an appointment online for a free initial consultation!
Child Support: What is Acceptable Use and What is Not?
The money paid in child support payments is meant to benefit the child and support their growth. Family law courts know that child care can take on a wide variety of forms depending on the unique needs of each family, and accept a diverse range of child support expenses to assist this. A custodial parent may choose to use the funds for basic living essentials including food, school supplies, or health care medical costs, while another may spend it on basic household needs such as bills, rent, or other common expenses needed to keep the house in order.
It is also completely acceptable for child support money to be set aside for emergency use or future education expenses such as a college fund. More discretionary spending on entertainment, such as weekend trips, gifts, or eating out can also be viewed as legitimate needs for the child in the eyes of the court.
That being said, there are numerous ways in which child support money can be misused and spent on things unrelated to child care. As the noncustodial parent, you may have a legitimate grievance if you find that your ex-spouse has not been following the child support guidelines and is spending the funds on themselves or things that are not related to the welfare or benefit of the child or household.
Is the Use of Child Support Funds Monitored?
You will not receive a list that breaks down the use of child support funds unless your ex provides one to you. Keep in mind that the recipient of child support is not obligated to do this, so in the majority of situations you will have no way of keeping track of how the payments are allocated. After the court has set the amount of child support to be paid by the non-custodial parent, the recipient is responsible for using it to cover living expenses and other costs related to child care according to their best judgment.
The child support process outside of the courtroom largely has no method in place to monitor or keep up with the spending of the funds you provide. If you have reason to believe the money is being spent on things outside of what is intended, you are allowed to bring the issue to the courts through an attorney or raise the issue with the relevant child support enforcement agencies. You will need to have some definitive proof, however, as your concerns will not go far based solely on suspicions.
Should I Take My Concerns to Court?
As we have covered above, child support payments can be used in a wide variety of ways, and there is no requirement that it is spent directly on the child. This means that the funds can be used on basic essentials like groceries or medical care, on more broad benefits such as household expenses, or on items and special expenses like vacations that can be viewed as a form of enrichment for the child. Simply put, if the money is spent in a way that can be seen as benefitting the child it is fair and allowed.
Due to this, you will need to have a good reason if you choose to challenge how your ex in court over their use of child support. If you fail to provide proof of the other parent misusing the funds or if the court believes you are simply filing a frivolous complaint your concerns will go unaddressed.
If, however, you are able to provide actual proof that the custodial parent is allocating child support funds to expenses that do not benefit your child, you may be able to present a solid case to the courts. This proof could be in the form of online posts that directly state or even imply that child support funds are being used on personal expenses rather than going toward the child. When arguing your case you will also need to provide proof that your child is being raised in an unsafe environment, or is being mistreated under the care of the custodial parent.
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In the event that you can provide this evidence, your best option is to work with an experienced family law attorney. They will be able to assist you in bringing your argument to court and can direct you to the best method to have your case validated. A family court judge may take your side and order child support accountability to review the use of the funds. If this accounting finds that the payments you have made were used in a way that does not support or benefit the child your ex may be held responsible for paying the money back through a court-ordered child support decision.
Review Your Case With an Experienced Family Law Attorney
If you have concerns over the use of funds provided to meet your child support obligation your first step should be addressing it with the other parent. You may be able to reach an agreement regarding financial statements or other means of giving you more control over the payment of childcare costs.
If want to have a detailed discussion about child support matters with an experienced attorney contact Tommalieh Law and let a child support attorney analyze your case and advise you on how to move forward.