Should I itemize how my child support dollars are spent?

Posted on Sep 8, 2021 by Katie Carter

No man wants to pay support. That’s even true, unfortunately, for child support. Don’t even get me started.

Just kidding. I’m already started, because I already decided to write about child support and whether a person – usually, a mother – receiving it should be required to write down and report on how her child support dollars are spent.

Let me say, at the outset, and as explicitly as I can: there is absolutely NO legal requirement that you itemize how your child support dollars are spent. None.
Additionally, you should NOT itemize your expenses or detail the way in which you decide to spend the money from child support.

Let me elaborate.

This is coming up, for me, because I shared something on my personal Facebook page. A friend commented that, because her boyfriend’s baby mama is abusing child support and is using the money to pay for a housekeeper that, as a matter of public policy, all mothers receiving support everywhere should have to itemize their expenses.

To which I said, and I quote, “I could not possibly disagree with this more.”

I don’t need to get into it with someone on Facebook, but, suffice it to say that, for about a MILLION different reasons, this would be a terrible idea.

Reason #1: Having to itemize your expenses gives your ex WAY too much power to control what you do, with whom, and when.

It should go without saying that an ex shouldn’t have this much insight into your financial affairs. It opens the door to extra petty arguments (and, trust me, in family law, we specialize in petty arguments) about whether this or that is a legitimate expense. Like, did she REALLY go out to eat, when she could have eaten so much more cheaply at home? I mean, really, the child support could be, like, half of what it is, if she didn’t buy all that ridiculous organic stuff. You see what I mean? No matter what side of the spectrum you fall on, you’ll NEVER get it right in your child’s father’s eyes.

And, it also bears mentioning that he’s not proposing that we use HIS finances as a basis for comparison! Please, sir, tell me if this, based on your infinite wisdom, is an allowable expense?

No way! Absolutely no way.

You could share it with him, if he’s bullying you about it, and you feel like sharing that information would shut him up.  I think it probably more likely that he’d use the information you shared to dissect your finances bit by bit, and to then instruct you in all the ways that he feels you’ve missed the mark.  You COULD do it – even though there’s no legal requirement that you do so – but I think you’d likely find yourself in more hot water if you did than if you provided him nothing at all.

Reasons #2: As a matter of public policy, this kind of intrusion would make legal costs go up -further dividing those who can and cannot afford legal representation.

You think your case is expensive now? Let’s definitely open the door to litigate all the cases where dad doesn’t think that mom is spending the child support as appropriately as she could. Lets go over each and every receipt, with experts, witnesses, testimony, and carefully crafted oral arguments to back up each side’s point.

Well, attorneys DO have children, too, and those children DO need to go to college…. No, stop it, stop it right now! That’s not a good use of your money – or, frankly, my time and blood pressure points. The courts are so backed up right now, they need to spend their time resolving issues that really need to get resolved, not solving petty disputes between ex partners about how child support dollars are spent.

The only question that needs to be asked is, “Are the children fed, and do they have a roof over their head?” If the answer to both of those questions are yes, then your child support dollars are being appropriately spent.

If the answer is no, we definitely have bigger problems than whether or not you’re itemizing your expenses! We definitely need to work to figure that piece out first.

And let me say one more thing, okay?

Having a housekeeper is not unjustified!

Even assuming that the mom in my friend’s boyfriend’s case DID use all of her child support to pay for a housekeeper – which, presumably, she does not, because she still feeds the children, keeps a roof over their heads, buys them clothes, etc – that’s not illegitimate.

So, what? Her kids live in a clean house? She doesn’t clean her own toilets? I’m not sure what the basis for complaining is here, but I think it’s a good thing that she spends her extra time outside of work spending time with her kids. I think its great that their house is clean. I don’t think this is a mark of mismanagement of child support money at all.

And you know what? It’s really irrelevant what I think because, at the end of the day, there’s only one question that matters.

Are the children fed? Do they have a roof over their head?

If yes, then please tell your child’s father to butt out.

For more information, or to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced child support attorneys, give us a call at 757-425-5200.