Child Support Law
Missing child support payments is an unfortunate circumstance that many parents find themselves in, both for those who rely on the money and those who have to pay.
On one hand, the parent receiving child support (the "obligee parent") has the right to spend child support funds as they see fit and in the best interest of the child. However, if the parent is spending the child support money on themselves or on unnecessary items rather than meeting their child's needs, the obligee parent could face criminal charges of child abuse or neglect.
Child abuse typically refers to intentionally inflicting physical injury upon a child. Neglect, on the other hand, usually affects the child's physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as standards of hygiene and nutrition. Sexual and emotional abuse, and even excessive substance abuse on the part of the custodial parent, can also fall under these categories.
If the obligee parent misspends child support money and that results in abuse or neglect, you might be able to get a change in custody as well as a change in your obligation to pay child support.
Child support money is intended to allow noncustodial parents to support their children with expenses such as food, clothing, school supplies, medicine, and extracurricular activities.
Typically, the custodial parent has some leeway in terms of how they spend this money. If you believe the other parent is spending child support in a way that results in abuse or neglect, however, you might have a case to change child support and child custody.
You can file a request to modify your child custody arrangement or child support obligations with your local family court. If the other parent does not contest your child support modification request, and a judge agrees to the change, the payment agreement is changed.
It will likely get more complex if the other parent does not agree to the change, especially if there is an accusation of child abuse or neglect. In any event, you'll likely need to consult an attorney with experience in child custody and child support before filing a request. A family law attorney will be able to review your request with you first and advise you on whether and how to proceed.
Sometimes both parents are happy with an existing child support payment arrangement, but then things change for one or both of them. For instance, you may lose your job, or the custodial parent could be injured, taking either or both of you out of the workforce permanently or temporarily.
It is then up to you and your ex to decide if you can come to an agreement on a temporary child support payment change. The process is similar to making a permanent change to child support. Again, it is wise to work with a family law attorney to work on this change, even if you and your ex are in agreement.