Do I have to show how I’ve spent my child-support payments?

The popular rap artist T.I. has had his share of run-ins with the law. But he’s also recently gone to court voluntarily to protect his own interests. When his ex-girlfriend, with whom he had two sons, sought to increase his child-support obligations from $2,000 to $3,000 a month, T.I. went to court to challenge this, arguing that she was spending the money on herself rather than on the kids. He demanded an accounting of how she was spending the money.

T.I. isn’t alone. Many non-custodial parents are suspicious about how the other parent is using their child-support payments and would like similar accountings. So are they entitled to it?

In many states, they’re not. But some states do make provisions for such accountings in particular circumstances.

For example, in some places the custodial parent can be ordered to provide a summary of the money he or she has spent on the children if the non-custodial parent can show the court that it’s necessary. This means the non-custodial parent needs to give some evidence that the custodial parent is misspending child support. Then the custodial parent will need to submit a sworn report that details how the money was used.

In some states, it’s completely up to the discretion of the court whether the non-custodial parent has to account for his or her spending, and the judge simply decides on a case-by-case basis. But even in states that don’t provide for any such accounting, the parties may be allowed to provide for it in a divorce agreement.

As you can see, the law differs from state to state. If you suspect that your ex is misusing your support payments or you feel you’re being wrongly accused of misusing child support that you’re receiving from your ex, talk to a family law attorney on how best to deal with the situation.