This is a difficult situation because generally the custodial parent has the right to spend child support money in the best interests of the child as he or she sees fit.  But if the custodial parent does not spend the child support money in a way that benefits the child, he or she could be charged with neglect or child abuse.

The custodial parent has a legal obligation to use the child support that is paid by the non-custodial parent for child expenses and should not use for personal expenses. Child support payments cannot be used for anything because this would not be fair for the child or the non-custodial parent making the payments.

Changing Custody Orders or Child Support

It may be possible to have custody orders or child support payments modified because of a custodial parent’s irresponsibility. But this is probably an exception more than a rule, and may be required to follow an abuse or neglect charge against the custodial parent. A parent may seek a modification of child custody and visitation orders at anytime.

The court may modify the child custody payments if they determine that the modification is necessary and proper and if its in the "best interest of the child." The parent who seeks the modification of the child custody payments must show the court that there has been a "significant change of circumstances" and modification is necessary.

How Can the Amount of Child Support or Custody Order Be Changed?

The parent seeking the modification of the child support payments must show that the modification is necessary and is in the best interest of the child. Usually modifications are allowed if there has been a "change in circumstances" that make the last amount of child support payments unfair. Some common reasons for a change of child custody payments may be:

  • Loss of job
  • Financial emergency
  • Extra help and special needs of child

Can I Seek a Change of Custody?

A parent may seek a change of custody by requesting to the court that the other custodial parent is not responsible in taking care of the child and the change of custody is in the child's best interest. Many parents seek to change custody and have their request granted by showing a significant change of circumstances. Some common reasons for seeking a change of custody include:

  • The non-custodial parent's work schedule changed
  • The non-custodial parent moved closer and now can take care of the child
  • Child prefers the other parent
  • The custodial parent is financially irresponsible
  • The custodial parent is irresponsible in getting the child to school, child doing poorly in school, substance abuse, physical abuse
  • The environment of the child is poor

Do I Need a Lawyer to Handle My Child Support Issue?

If you are making child support payments and do not feel as though the custodial parent is adequately spending the money in the child’s best interests, it would be wise for you to speak with a family lawyer to discuss any options that may be open to you.  Working with an experienced family lawyer can help you understand your rights and help ensure that your interests are protected.