Child support is money ordered by the Court to be paid by one parent (“the paying parent”) to the other (“the receiving parent”) to assist in the support of the children while in the receiving parent’s care. Child support is intended to help pay for expenses such as the rent or mortgage, utilities, food (although not necessarily school lunches), and clothing for the children while in the receiving parent’s custody. Since some of these expenses are intertwined with those of the receiving parent (most people don’t buy a separate bag of groceries for their children, for example), parents who pay support often worry that their ex-spouse is not using the child support for the kids’ benefit.
In limited circumstances, such as when a child attends college, a parent may be allowed by the court to pay child support directly to the child. To change an existing child support order to allow you to pay all or a portion of the child support directly to the child attending college, the parent must convince the court that issued the original decree to order the arrangement. Please be aware that judges do not routinely make these kinds of changes.
Paying or receiving child support during the college years can raise confusing and highly technical issues, and it is best to consult an attorney well in advance of a child entering college to receive situation-specific advice.
It is very important, however that parents not just take matters into their own hands and make payments to a child without court authorization. Payments made to a child without agreement of the other parent in writing and the court’s authorization may likely be counted as gifts, rather than part of court-ordered child support payments.
If a parent believes the amount of child support being paid is inappropriate or that the payments are being used inappropriately , the paying parent cannot simply stop paying support or redirect support on their own. Instead, the paying parent can request through a motion to modify that the court modify the amount of support or to whom the support is paid.
If you are concerned that the child support you are paying to your ex-spouse is not being used appropriately, or if you are seeking to pay child support directly to your college-age child, you should talk to your attorney to find out what options are available.