Kristopher K. Greenwood & Associates
Salt Lake City – Ogden
Kristopher K. Greenwood & Associates

Salt Lake City – Ogden

We Fight To Win

Experienced Divorce and Family Law Attorneys Serving All of Utah

What to Do When You Suspect that the Child Support Money You Pay is Misused

When you make child support payments, you expect the money to be spent on essentials for your child. What if the custodial parent spends the money on themselves, however? This article looks at how you may be able to seek modification of your child support order in these circumstances.

Divorce proceedings can be stressful, not least because of the financial pressures involved. The fact that divorce affects the children only makes things harder.

Moving past divorce, you want to be sure that your child custody agreement is fair, that the child support directions are sensible, and that your children’s interests are taken care of. You may also, however, need to think about possible fund leakage. In other words, you may need to be concerned about whether your ex diverts the money to personal ends.

Is your spouse required to use your child support money exclusively for your children?

People tend to assume that it’s against the law for their former spouse to use their child support money on themselves, instead of the children. In the state of Utah, however, the law doesn’t state in clear terms what child support can or cannot be spent on. It’s still possible to challenge the way the recipient of child support spends the money, but the court’s opinions and rulings tend to be formed on a case-by-case basis.

If you know that your ex spends the child support on herself, can you stop paying?

In some circumstances, you can appeal to the court to reduce your obligation by the amount that you’re able to prove has been misused. Your family law attorney may be able to build a case with sufficient evidence to demonstrate that misuse has occurred, and the court may put a stop to your child support payments, or allow you to directly pay your child’s expenses, rather than have the money go through your ex.

In other cases, you may be able to ask the court to direct your ex to provide you with accounting that indicates how exactly the child support money is spent.

If you suspect child support misuse, can you request a modification?

Theoretically, it’s possible to find child support misuse, and have the court reduce what you owe. A divorce attorney with experience in child support issues could investigate whether the other parent misuses child support funds, and build a case to present to the court. In the end, it’s the judge who determines if your case should lead to modification.

Once it is determined that funds have been misused, some parents may wonder if it might be possible for them to recover funds misused in the past. Modification orders, however, usually only cover future payments, and do not take effect retroactively.

How do you go about getting a child support modification order?

If you are the parent making child support payments and you wish to seek modification, you would need to have your family law attorney petition the family court. The court may respond by asking the other parent, the recipient of those funds, to account for how they spend the money. They may need to provide receipts and other forms of proof to demonstrate that the money is spent appropriately. Some states recognize significant misuse of funds as a substantial change of circumstances, and order modifications.

If you want to take your case to court to have your child support order modified for reasons of misuse of funds, working with an experienced Utah family law attorney should be your first step.