Common Child Support Questions: Can I make my ex account for what child support is spent on? Whose responsibility is it to prove what has been paid in the event of a dispute?

There are two very common questions that arise relative to child support.  First, many people want to know if they can make their ex “account” for what child support money is spent on, to ensure it is actually spent on the child.  There is no case law or statute that requires someone receiving child support to account for what they do with child support funds.  Simply put, there are many expenses that are paid for a minor child that are not strictly for the minor child, such as a mortgage or rent, grocery bills, utilities, transportation expenses, etc.  It would be impossible for a person to sit and divide out every single thing that child support is spent on, and there is no requirement for a parent receiving child support to do so.  In the event that a potential obligor is going to pay child support that is egregiously large and would result in a windfall to the other parent, the law allows said obligor to request a child support deviation, which is entirely up to a Judge’s discretion under the circumstances.

The second question that often arises is in regard to accounting for how much child support has been paid.  For example, let’s say that Mike has been paying child support for the past eight years to Sally.  Sally files a motion alleging that Mike is not paying the proper amount of support and owes arrears.  The burden would fall on Mike to prove how much money he has paid to Sally, through paycheck stubs, cancelled checks or other means.  Sally does not have the burden to account for what she has received from Mike, in most situations. That is why it is very important for a person paying child support to do so in a fashion that is verifiable and that they keep records of all payments that are made, should the issue ever arise in Court.  This protects the obligor from potentially being charged for child support they actually paid. If there isn’t proof of what was paid, it is likely the Court will find the payments were not made, absent the parties agreeing that they were made.

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