When Child Support Payments Do Not Make it to the Child

If you are paying child support to an ex-spouse, you want to ensure that the money is actually going to the child. Is this a reasonable request? According to Indiana law, that answer is typically a loud “no”. In the majority of situations, you have no legal right (or recourse) to demand a parent to provide you with an accounting of the child support funds. The transactional costs (and attorney costs) of enforcing such an arrangement is steep, and Courts typically leave child support spending to the discretion of the paid parent.


But my spouse isn’t taking care of my children at all! Is there nothing I can do? If your ex-spouse is truly neglecting your children, there are situations where you can request an accounting of future child support expenses… but never past expenses. The Indiana Child Support Guidelines covers these situations in Guideline Number 9: Accountability. It states, in relevant part, that if there is a showing of “reasonable cause to believe that child support is not being used for the support of the child”, the Court can order an accounting to be conducted. This Guideline references Indiana Code 31‑16‑9‑6, which allows a Court to order an accounting upon necessity.


If anything is labeled a necessity in the Indiana Code, chances are rather high that it will be denied. Necessities are tough to prove. Proving this necessity would be the toughest part. Sure, there are obviously direct expenses that would be simple to prove and calculate (i.e. school expenses, clothing, extracurriculars). However, the Court also takes into account indirect expenses. How much of your child support should be directed to the rent / mortgage of your ex-spouse’s home? How much of your child support should go towards fuel costs regarding the transportation of the child? How much electricity, water, and gas does your child use? How much child support should go toward these expenses? Should these costs be split 50/50? What’s a fair and equitable distribution? As you can see, calculating these costs is fraught with issues. Meeting the burden of proof necessary to trigger an accounting is high. Further, what all individuals receiving child support can tend to agree on; however, is this: it’s still not enough. The Courts have heard this countless times, and, quite frankly, it’s an accurate statement. Thus, unless there is a blatant case of child abandonment, you will have a tough time seeing proof of where your child support payments have gone.


As difficult as it may be, you’ll need to adjust to the fact that the money given to your spouse will be spent on your children, either one way or another.