You have to have a very extreme case in order to bring that to court and get any change in the custodial parent’s behavior. Decades ago, parties would challenge in court whether support money was being appropriately spent on the child, but the courts decided it was too complicated and too involved to deal with.
Now it filtered down to the concept that if you’re paying child support, and you see your child is running around malnourished and in rags, then you know clearly there is not any money being spent on them, and you can make a challenge. But courts won’t give the paying parent the right to ask for an accounting and make sure that every dime goes directly to the child.
Partly, it’s difficult because child support is for food, clothing, and shelter. So, for example, with food, when you’re buying food for the whole family, you can’t decide how much of the milk should be for the child or children, and how much for the adult. And, of course, with shelter, you can’t dissect your PG&E bills or your mortgage.
Q: If the parent receiving the child support buys an expensive car that I know he or she wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford, might that be something to bring up in court?
Not usually. As long as the kids are being taken care of, and they’re being fed and clothed, and their needs are being met.