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Can your ex-spouse substitute holiday gifts for child support?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2022 | Child Custody

Things are tough all over. Inflation has played havoc with a lot of people’s budgets, and the upcoming holiday season isn’t making things any easier.

Your ex-spouse, however, thinks they’ve found a novel solution to their own financial woes without sacrificing any of the holiday fun: They’ve decided that whatever gifts they get the kids should count as their child support for the month of December.

Child support is for the child’s needs – gifts are extra

Every parent has an obligation to support their children according to their means. Child support is meant to contribute to a child’s regular living expenses, including things like:

  • Housing costs
  • Food 
  • Utilities
  • Clothing
  • Educational needs
  • Medical care

Child support is not “extra” money that the receiving parent gets to use. It’s already earmarked for the child’s needs – so your co-parent can’t just decide to withhold the money and use it to buy holiday gifts instead. 

Parents with a lot of wealth can afford to be generous with their children during the holidays, while those with more modest incomes cannot. To ease your co-parent’s burden (and your own), you may want to talk to your ex-spouse about the issue and see if you can work out a deal. That may mean putting dollar limits on how much you each will buy, simply scaling back altogether or agreeing to split the cost of holiday gifts down the middle.

Ultimately, if your co-parent refuses to understand their obligation, you can ask the court to enforce the support order. If your ex-spouse still fails to pay, they can face serious penalties, including the loss of their driver’s license, garnished wages and more.