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Can I spend child support on gifts and other non-essentials?

After you begin receiving child support payments, you may feel as if your life is being watched under a microscope. Your ex-spouse makes assumptions as to how you spend the money and criticizes your financial habits. You may worry if your ex can dictate how to spend child support or whether the court will get involved. This is not an uncommon fear for many California parents who receive child support.

According to FindLaw, the purpose of child support is to provide for your children’s needs. You may not realize that family law courts consider children’s emotional needs to be important, as well as their physical requirements. You understand that you can use child support for such necessities as food, clothing, rent, utilities and medicine. You may also feel no misgivings spending the money on household items, school supplies and tutoring or saving it for a future emergency.

However, you might worry that your ex or the court will protest or you could feel guilty if you spend a portion of your child support check on something not deemed essential for your kids’ immediate needs. For example, you might buy birthday party supplies and gifts for your child’s special day. You could spend it on a restaurant meal or a movie ticket. These expenses are not necessary for your children’s survival, but they help build memories and contribute to your kids’ happiness and sense of security.

You should not have to fear the courts stepping in when you fulfill your basic obligations of keeping your children safe, healthy and happy, and the money you receive from child support can assist you in these efforts. This information, however, should not replace a lawyer’s advice.

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