After a divorce, it can be difficult to navigate child custody and child support. One common mistake that parents make is the assumption that anything that they purchase for the child will count towards child support. They may think if they make a large purchase for the child that it should be credited towards their child support. Here is what you need to know about money outside of your support payments.
Credit Is Not Automatically Applied
If you make purchases for your children, do not expect them to automatically apply as child support. You may purchase toys, clothes or fund activities for your children outside of the normal child support. If there is no agreement in place regarding what happens to the money you spend outside of your child support order, it will be considered a gift by the court. Gifts are completely unconnected to child support. They cannot affect how much you pay.
Even if you offer money to your ex to pay for necessities for the child, you cannot ask that it be credited to your child support unless you have an arrangement with the court. If you do ask, your ex-spouse can legally deny the request to see it as more than a gift.
Credit Can Be Negotiated
Just because you do not automatically receive credit for additional expenses does not mean that you can’t receive credit at all, as a family lawyer can explain. If your ex-spouse or your child asks for money for an extracurricular activity, for instance, you may be able to apply the amount to your regular child support payments. Some courts, however, do not allow this method to be used. Often, it is up to the custodial parent to determine what to do with the funds. The custodial parent could decide to keep the money and consider it a gift or he or she could ask the court to return it to you as credit.
If you’re on amicable terms with your ex, you could negotiate how he or she will handle the extras that you provide outside of child support. For instance, if you want to add money to a college fund or if you want your child to have extra funds, you can discuss whether this will count as child support.
When it comes to child support payments, do not assume that everything you purchase for your child will count towards the payments. Outside support needs to be arranged through the court and with your ex-spouse ahead of time. To find out more about gifts and child support payments, contact a child support lawyer as soon as possible.