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Am I allowed to tell my ex how to spend child support?

During your marriage, your ex was known for being frivolous with money, spending it on unnecessary items when your family needed more important things. Now that you are divorced and your ex has custody of the children, you worry that he or she will also spend the child support you pay unwisely. Child support spending is a valid concern for you and other Colorado parents who pay the parent with primary custody. However, before you tell your ex how to spend this money, you should understand how the family law courts interpret acceptable spending.

Child support is for children

As you know, child support is for the benefit of your children. You may have reason to object if you know your ex is spending money intended for your kids on personal items, alcohol and adult getaways. However, as FindLaw explains, the parent receiving support has a wide range of freedom in how to spend it. Your ex may choose to spend child support on the following goods and services to benefit your children:

  • Rent, utility payments, household necessities, clothing and food
  • School items, tutoring, music lessons, extracurricular activities, sports and college tuition
  • Over-the-counter medicine, prescriptions and doctors' visits
  • Birthday and holiday gifts, restaurant meals, movie tickets and family vacations

It is understandable that the final point may bother you if you believe gifts and trips are not necessary. However, the courts also consider your children's emotional needs important. You might not object if you know that a portion of the child support you provide is going toward making memories and keeping them happy and entertained.

Like all parents, you are concerned for your children's well-being, but in ordinary circumstances, you have little say in how your ex spends child support. You may have reason to contact authorities or the family law courts if you are certain your former spouse is not meeting your children's basic needs or is abusing them. A family law attorney can review your situation and discuss your legal options.


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