A common issue seen in almost every co-parenting relationship is regarding child support. It is extremely often to get parents in mediation that express anger or concern that the child support they are paying isn’t going directly to the children. Some people cite recent vacations, clothing, cars, or even indicate the other parent is spending child support on a new love interest. It isn’t out of the ordinary for the paying parent to get so frustrated that they threaten to withhold support until the payee provides proof that the support is being spent on the child. So what is the payor supposed to do?
Step One: Don’t Withhold Support
First thing is first. If an amount of support is listed in your agreement or a document filed with the court, you cannot withhold child support. You are legally required to pay that monthly amount to the other parent. Failure to do so could put you in arrears. If there has been a significant change in your income (like due to unemployment), then that needs to be addressed and changed with the court. You can also work on modifying child support with a mediator. However, you cannot simply cease paying support because you aren’t sure how the money is being spent.
Step Two: The Other Parent Has No Obligation to Show You Their Finances on a Regular Basis
When you are going through a divorce, you are required to disclose all your financial information. There are no secrets. However, after a divorce, your financial information is relatively private, save for any modifications or changes you may make that may require some financial disclosures. You are not required to provide a cent-by-cent accounting to the other parent regarding where money is going. Neither parent has the right to look through bank or credit card statements.
Step Three: If You Are Concerned, Mediate
If you are legitimately concerned that your children are not being cared for, you will need to discuss the matter in a more formal setting. If you notice that your children’s clothing is worn or dirty, they are not being fed appropriately at the other parent’s house, or school supplies are not purchased. These may indicate that the money is not being spent appropriately. Ask the other parent to participate in mediation so you can ensure that your children are financially cared for. There may be other underlying circumstances relating to the other parent’s finances that you are unaware of.
Are you paying child support and finding yourself in conflict with the other parent? Do you need the help of a neutral mediator? Call (858) 736-2411 to speak to our team at West Coast Family Mediation Center. We provide a free virtual consultation to determine if we are the right fit for your conflict.