The finances of child custody are often a touchy subject with divorced parents. Child support is designed to ensure that children living with either parent experience the same quality of life as if they were still living with both parents. But nothing is more upsetting to think that the money you are sending over to take care of your kids is being misspent on things your ex wants for themselves instead. You may see your ex coming out of the salon, with a whole new wardrobe, with a shiny new car you know they can’t afford on their own just after you pay your child support. You may be absolutely sure your ex is misspending the money sent for your children.
The law, however, sees misspent child support as a very serious and very narrowly defined. So is your ex misspending your child support in the eyes of Florida and Boca Raton law? We’re here to help you find out.
What is Misspent Child Support?
Child support is designed to help your ex take care of your children with the same quality of life they would have with both incomes in one household. In fact, in modern joint custody agreements, both parents might pay child support during the time they are not in physical custody of the child. The amount paid is meant to provide for all the various expenses that come with having children.
- Nutritious good quality food
- A safe and comfortable home
- Doctors appointments
- Babysitters or daycare
- School supplies
- After school activities
- Sports involvement
- Miscellaneous parenting supplies
As long as basic needs are met and opportunities are provided, the court likely will not intervene or consider the child support to be misspent. If your children’s needs are not being met, then you may have a real case.
The Exact Dollars You Send
However, there is nothing in the law that says your ex has to spend the -exact dollars- you send for child support on the kids. Children’s expenses happen when they happen. As a parent, you know that it would be unreasonable to refuse to buy your kids food or pay for a field trip until a child support payment comes in. These expenses are paid out-of-pocket with what the parent has, even if it lowers their bank account balance, because they trust that child support will come in to refill their resources.
So what your ex buys immediately after they receive the child support legally has nothing to do with ‘how they’re spending the money’. Even if they take themselves to the spa “with your money” after spending their own money on the kids all month. The court may weigh how the household budget is being spent, but if a reasonable amount is going to caring for the kids, you can consider your contribution to be going to your children.
Can I Prove My Ex is Misspending Child Support?
That said, there are some circumstances where child support really is being misspent. There are a few despicable people who neglect their children in order to spend the money on themselves, their new partners, drugs, or their ill-fated business ventures. The single and only accepted sign that your child support is being misspent is if your children are clearly being neglected.
The core purpose of child support, even in the most low-income families, is to ensure the children have nutritious food to eat and a safe place to call home. The amount you pay combined with your ex’s income should equal a certain quality of life for your children while in their care. If you can prove to the court that the children’s needs and opportunities are being neglected and money is being routed away from their care, you may have a legal case against your ex.
What to Do If Your Kids Aren’t Being Taken Care Of
There is nothing more upsetting than seeing your children being neglected. If this is what has happened in your life, there are steps you can take to make things right. Whether that’s taking over custody or forcing your ex to clean up their act, a family law attorney can help you. If the court can see proof that your ex is not dedicating sufficient funds to caring for the children, you will have an opportunity to change the terms of the divorce, custod, and support agreement.
In less extreme cases, you may also be able to show that a new support agreement is in order. While the income of a new romantic partner does not factor into child support, sudden wage increases or lifestyle improvements may. A Boca Raton child support lawyer can help you refine what about your ex’s finances and their treatment of the children might warrant a renegotiation.
For more information about Boca Raton child support law and the options for your unique circumstances, contact us today!