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Can your ex swap out holiday gifts for their support payments?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2022 | Divorce

Money is tight, and inflation is rising – and that’s pinching a lot of pockets as the holidays approach. Parents everywhere are already struggling to meet the financial demands of the Christmas season on top of their regular bills.

Your ex-spouse, however, seems to think that they can withhold their regular child support for the month of December and just use it to buy gifts, instead. When you express your displeasure at the whole idea, your ex says that the money is just supposed to go for the kids, anyhow, so you have no cause for complaint.

That’s not how child support works

There are goals for child support, and that includes reducing the economic impact of your divorce on your children. The money you receive is designed to make sure that your child enjoys the standard of living closer to what they would have enjoyed if you and your co-parent had remained married.

That means that child support is designed to go for things like shelter (rent or mortgage), utility bills, educational needs, medical bills and more. It’s irrelevant if the rest of the household benefits as a result – so your ex is sadly mistaken about how the support money gets used.

Your ex is also mistaken about their ability to decide how that money is spent, even temporarily. Once a court has ordered one parent to pay child support to the other, it’s no longer up for debate. If your co-parent goes through with their plan, you can ask the court to enforce the original order. If your ex is noncompliant, the court can:

  • Take their driver’s license or professional license
  • Take their federal or state tax returns in the coming year
  • Put a lien on their home or other personal property
  • Seize the money from their bank accounts or wages

Most of the time, co-parents are able to work out their holiday disagreements with a few discussions. Stay firm, explain how things work, and offer to split the cost of holiday gifts between you or work on a holiday budget together.

If all else fails, you may need some experienced legal guidance to help you get through any snags with your child support.

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