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What if my ex claims too many expenses to pay child support?

During and after a separation, many parents step up to the plate when it comes to supporting their children emotionally and/or financially. Some, however, do not, and the “reasons” can be creative.

For example, one common justification goes something like, “I don’t have any money left over after my bills and expenses are paid.” Here is a look at why attorneys can, and do, go back to court to break down this argument and to enforce child support.

Necessary versus unnecessary expenses

Some expenses simply cannot be avoided. Everyone needs to eat, and many people require a car to get to work. But does everyone need $300 dinners out weekly or three high-end cars? Likely not. The fact is that a parent’s life needs to fit his or her child support obligations. The child support obligations do not have to fit wherever they can in a parent’s lifestyle.

To that end, there are many unnecessary expenses that can be trimmed. Clothes, travel expenses, artwork purchases and the like can be cut (and the items returned) if need be. Also, if your ex claims he or she is not obligated to use lottery winnings and the like on child support, they should indeed be considered under California guidelines.

Close to the truth?

Factors such as the parents’ income and the amount of time the child spends with each parent go into child support calculations. Family structure matters, too; for example, a parent with six children might pay less child support per child than if he or she had only one child. Also important are the needs of the child and the standard of living the child has become accustomed to.

All this means it is possible, in some cases, that parents are being honest when they say they do not have much left over after they pay expenses and bills. For instance, a child with many needs and a high standard of living might require high amounts of child support. Depending on the other parent’s income and budget, however, he or she might not be able to contribute as much as the custodial parent would like. No matter what, the amount paid should still be in line with state guidelines or the divorce agreement, or a return visit to court may be required.

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