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How much of your child support is actually spent on your child?


This news story was published on October 17, 2015.
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(Op-ed by M.E. Mullins)

We all know what child support is, or at least have an understanding of how is it supposed to work. But how much of that money legally has to be spent on the child? It might surprise many people to learn that there are absolutely no rules or controls on how child support funds are spent. Technically, none of it is mandated to go toward the child’s benefit, and the receiving parent can spend it any way they want, and many do just that.

So let’s back up a minute and review how child support is calculated and levied in Iowa.

If child support is to be awarded, the parent with the greater income pays the other parent child support monies monthly, usually through the Clerk of Court. In Iowa, the amount one parent pays the other is called an “offset”. This is a calculated number which offsets one parent’s higher income vs. the other’s income amount. There is, by the way, no distinction for the sex of the parent in this calculation. If the female ex-spouse were to make more income, she would pay the male the offset as calculated by the state formula. In joint custody situations, each parent owes each other the basic amount of child support, and the offset is designed to make up the difference.

So who controls how child support monies are spent? The answer is nobody. The recipient parent gets a blank check every month, and is free to spend it however they want. Nothing says you can’t spend this on a big screen TV, tanning and nail appointments, or taking a fun trip out of town. No agency or court controls this, but maybe it’s time there were some rules. It’s not fair for parents to spend these funds however they want while the child does without or with less. If child support payments are SO important that the parent that fails to pay them can be put in jail for non-payment, why is the receiving parent allowed to spend them however they want? That doesn’t seem fair at all. And if you watch the county jail roster as so many do, you know that there is almost always at least one person in jail for non-payment of child support. How about we put the other parent in custody for pissing away the money?

So why not have the receiving parent get EBT style debit cards which have the same rules as food stamps? Then there would be some control over how the money was spent. This could be extended to include school supplies and clothing, but purchases of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, etc. would be forbidden. Maybe it’s time that the parent receiving the child support produces a ledger showing where the funds were spent on the child, or have to return the funds to the parent that paid them. If you think this is a good idea, please call or email your congressman. It’s time for more accountability of child support dollars in Iowa!

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9 Responses to How much of your child support is actually spent on your child?

  1. Avatar

    fu Reply Report comment

    February 14, 2017 at 10:50 am

    It’s a scam. It’s NOT about the kids. It’s about the State getting money from the Federal Government for each child in the system. A joke and only about power and money!

  2. Avatar

    rukidding Reply Report comment

    October 18, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Whoever is getting the child support should have to prove with receipts what they are spending the money on for the kids. To many people receiving child support believe they can spend this money on whatever they want and it does not go for the kids. Both parties decided to make a baby and both parties should have to share in the expense of paying for the child and its not up to society to help.

  3. Avatar

    LVS Reply Report comment

    October 18, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Great article and very much needed. I know a guy who pays $900.00 a month and his EX takes it and blows it in bars and on drugs. She doesn’t work, and lives free with her parents. The kids are dirty and need clothes real bad. She tells him to pay for it and then they will have them. He can barely survive on what he makes after paying his support. He can not be the only one in this situation. Damn shame, they used to be good kids and well cared for, now they are fatherless because under the advice of his attorney he doesn’t even see them. The attorney said the EX wouldn’t stop until he was in jail. This is a good guy, no alcohol and no drugs. Goes to work every day.

  4. Avatar

    Reality Check Reply Report comment

    October 18, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Reasonable, sensible, enforceable controls as the author proposes would make the system fair to all, payer, recipient and beneficiary. This is a multi billion dollar industry and merits some common sense oversight.

  5. Avatar

    Webster Reply Report comment

    October 18, 2015 at 8:08 am

    “The recipient parent gets a blank check every month…” It would appear that you do not know what a blank check is. Good luck with your child support payments.

  6. Avatar

    Katie Reply Report comment

    October 18, 2015 at 12:51 am

    I think there should be a mandatory savings account for each child of at least 10% of each check for medical, eye, & dental expenses if insurance doesn’t cover everything.

  7. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    October 18, 2015 at 12:43 am

    Wow. Assume that the child support goes to pay rent to keep a roof over your child’s head, utility bills to keep your child warm, and food to feed your child. The money your ex makes is what buys the big screen tv, not your child support payment.

    • Avatar

      Savage Reply Report comment

      October 18, 2015 at 8:10 am

      Now assume that it doesn’t. They spend their last dollar on a pack of cigarettes. Manage to go on trips, but can’t provide clothes for the child. I can say that my ex did the best she could. But I can tell you of many others that dont

    • Avatar

      Allen Reply Report comment

      October 18, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      Your theory doesn’t compute. I’m going to assume that you already pay rent, so you, can have a roof over your head. Pay utility bills and have food to eat. I’m also going to assume that you, work. If you don’t work, then tax payers are paying your way. So either way, you already have the necessities you mention. Your child doesn’t need a different roof or utilities. What it does need is a loving, caring parent. Not one that will take, child (support) money, and blow it on things that you, really don’t need.