Coparent Academy Podcast

#38 - What is Child Support For?

December 12, 2022 Linda VanValkenburg and Ron Gore
#38 - What is Child Support For?
Coparent Academy Podcast
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Coparent Academy Podcast
#38 - What is Child Support For?
Dec 12, 2022
Linda VanValkenburg and Ron Gore

When a dad refuses to pay for anything other than child support, saying that he doesn't have to contribute to the cost of their winter clothing, a mom asks what child support is for.

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When a dad refuses to pay for anything other than child support, saying that he doesn't have to contribute to the cost of their winter clothing, a mom asks what child support is for.

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Thanks for listening!  If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please email us at

If you enjoyed this episode, please rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher. or wherever you listen.

Ron Gore  0:00  
We have one of life's great mysteries today, Linda? What is child support for? 

Linda VanValkenburg  0:06  
If you're divorced it is.

Ron Gore  0:08  
That's right. So this is a Reddit post in which mom is asking what is child support for? Now, she says, "Please help. I'm trying to see if my position is correct or incorrect." She says, "My ex pays me child support around $200 a month for each of our children."

Ron Gore  0:29  
 And we have looked in luck, but we have no idea how many children she has at least two. So he pays $400 a month, at least for the children total. 

Ron Gore  0:38  
She says, "I use that money for food and rent. Our kids need snow boots this winter. We live in a part of the world that requires snow boots in the winter.

Linda VanValkenburg  0:48  
Probably a coat wouldn't you think as well? Just sayin'.

Ron Gore  0:51  
Well, not for their feet. 

Ron Gore  0:52  
"I asked the extra pitch and 50% of the cost because you'd be using the snow boots when he has the kids as well. And it is a necessity. He refused telling me that he pays child support, and I need to take it out of that money. He told the kids he already paid me for the boots, because he pays child support." She asks, "Am I looking at Child Support wrong? When we got divorced, my attorney told me I can use the money for things that kids need like housing and food and clothing. I don't have enough to buy all of them all of their clothing. I'm the only parent that buys clothing. In the end, I only have x amount of dollars. But should I be buying all other clothing first, and then rent and food?" 

Ron Gore  1:36  
And that is her Reddit post. So Linda, you run into this a lot, don't you?

Linda VanValkenburg  1:42  
Just about every case. And a lot of the cases I see the father is estranged and so he has quit paying child support a while ago. And so it and the children have been told usually in that case by the mother that he's not paying. And that's why she can't afford to get them the really expensive tennis shoes they want or something like that. But 

Ron Gore  2:11  
Gotta have those Yeezy's.

Linda VanValkenburg  2:11  
Yeah, exactly. But the the child of this case, or the children in this case has been told by Father that he's already paid for the boots, and probably anything else they wanted, because he pays child support. And I think that is the the big takeaway from this is quit talking to your children about child support no matter which side of the fence you're on, right. 

Ron Gore  2:36  
Like, I was trying to visualize how that exchange occurred, the kids come in and say, Dad, I need boots for the winter. And mom says you won't get them for us. So that's probably how that conversation started. The question of what child support is for, I think it's the same, I've practiced in Virginia and Oklahoma, and it was the same in two very disparate states, the two states are very different, or one's a Commonwealth, sorry Virginia. And the issue is, is that child support is the obligation of both parents. So both parents have a statutory obligation, not to mention an ethical obligation, to care for their kids. And when you have a situation in which the parents are equally having parenting time with the kids, then they're both providing for the same set of essential, basic necessities for the kids in terms of housing and food on probably roughly equal levels. When you have one parent who has primary custody, and the other parent has very limited time, like every other weekend, well, then the parent with primary custody is supporting their children financially, because they have them. They're feeding them, they're housing them. And the parent who has the visitation is doing less of that. And so they make up for some of that lack of support by providing direct financial compensation to the parent who has the children more. So it's both parents' obligation. In this case, I think you were looking through the comments. And did you find out their parenting time?

Linda VanValkenburg  4:08  
Yes. I was curious about how many children there were. And she used the word aid to describe the children that, you know, obviously is implies at least two, but I think maybe more than two. But she said they do have about really close to about halftime. Maybe she has a little bit more by the end of the year. And then she also volunteered that she at the point of the divorce was making more money than he did by a little bit. So I don't know if she's minimizing the differences there either way, or whether that was true, but she said now she doesn't. So.

Ron Gore  4:47  
So this sounds like a situation with roughly 50/50 physical custody and incomes that are probably fairly close. And he's still paying child support. So I think the answer is what is child support for?To provide financially for your children to keep them in as best situation as you can. And if you can, it's kind of nice to have their living environments not be so totally different to go from, you know, lap of luxury on one occasion, and then you're going to a small apartment in a rough part of town for for weekends or whatever. But that doesn't always work out clearly because you can't equalize it totally. So the answer in terms of she asks, "Should I be buying all other clothing first, and then rent and food?" Well, no. I mean, you just have to watch a basic survival show. So you need, right, what do you do you need your water, your shelter, and your food and a bikini.

Linda VanValkenburg  5:48  
And a bikini. 

Ron Gore  5:49  

Linda VanValkenburg  5:49  

Ron Gore  5:51  
that's true. I like a tankini myself, just because of the way my body works. But so you take care of your rent and your food first. And then for the clothing, you have options, you know, if she doesn't have the cash, and if he can't or won't contribute extra and there's no court order requiring him to then you hit the Goodwill. I know you've hit the Goodwill in your younger days. So

Linda VanValkenburg  6:14  
I yeah, I mean, it was not that long ago, believe it or not. So now the I think one of the implications there that I can read between the lines was that she doesn't have enough to buy all of them all their clothing, which implies that dad provides no clothing at his house. 

Ron Gore  6:32  
Yeah, she actually says that. She says, "I'm the only parent that buys clothing."

Linda VanValkenburg  6:36  
okay. And so that might be where a lot of the rub is. It's not just about a pair of snow boots per child. It's about everything. And I would say kind of typically, at least in my population, I see it's, it tends to be more often, the majority of the clothing is at mom's house. And dad will say even if he does buy something for his house, it winds up at mom's house. And then that can become a whole co-parenting issue in and of itself is where the clothes are that I bought. Why can't I get them back?

Ron Gore  7:12  
Right. I mean, I think having if they have roughly equal time, they should each maintain clothing for their children. But what winds up happening is kids have favorite clothes. 

Linda VanValkenburg  7:23  
Sure, we all do.

Ron Gore  7:23  
 You know, they want to wear the same outfit, right, I mean, I, notoriously were exactly the same outfit. Every day that I'm not in court, I mean, literally the same outfit. Just  because it's easier, I have five of the exact same shirts on hangers. And I put a different one on every day with the same jeans.

Linda VanValkenburg  7:44  
You know, some of the smartest, most powerful men of the world do that.

Ron Gore  7:48  
And I also do it. Although I'm not in that category. None of those categories. It just you know, it just makes it easier. And so but you know, like my son, he has, regardless of the time of year, he's got the sweatpants and a sweatshirt that he wants to wear. And it's going to you know, and he and he does the laundry. Religiously, right when I'm going to bed around 830 with a laundry room right next to the bedroom,

Linda VanValkenburg  8:16  
which is why the laundry room flooded at midnight one time.

Ron Gore  8:19  
Oh, that's correct. Yes, good memory. So yeah. And he was doing that, because he wanted to wash, he wanted to wear the same outfit again that he had just worn, right. So you don't have to have an extensive set of clothing for your kids. I think what would be best for these folks is to see if they could try to work together and get each kid a couple outfits that they really like, and the snow boots and they're gonna grow out of them. And maybe you can hand me down. Or maybe you can go get another but just focus on a few pieces that the kids love. And wear over and over and gets to travel back and forth. And you have some just sort of hanging around close at each house. Does that make sense to you?

Linda VanValkenburg  8:59  
Yes. And that's even becoming a thing for us adults that will hopefully help with climate change, by the way. Too many clothing pieces that everybody's wardrobe. Right.

Ron Gore  9:12  
And I yeah, I saw some of them in the news where they were showing I can't remember where it was. But it was like a river bank or it was somewhere and it was just all this clothing, trash piled up. Yes. So yeah, that minimize the wardrobe. I don't know, what am I doing given clothing advice? This is ridiculous. Anyone who knows me is saying please stop. You are the last person to give advice on any kind of clothing. I'm sartorially challenged.

Linda VanValkenburg  9:42  
One of the questions I hear the most especially I think from the fathers because they're traditionally more the ones to pay child support. Don't you think? Okay. 

Ron Gore  9:54  
I agree. 

Linda VanValkenburg  9:55  
They they will say that they feel like there's No control, they have no control over what the child support is used for. And I think that's where this post originally started, you know, that they feel like they're just paying for mom's brand new sports car or something, you know.

Ron Gore  10:17  
And they may be, and it's none of their business. You know, what I tell my clients is, if you're paying child support, you pay what's ordered, and once it's out of your account into hers, or into his its none of your business anymore. Because she has other payments, you know, you have a bank account, and money comes in and money goes out. And each dollar is not specifically allocated for a certain thing. So the child support that a person receives, it's just adding to the overall pool of resources they have to meet the needs that they have for themselves and for their children. And it's not the business of the parent paying child support, to keep track or receiving optimization of how each dollar of child support was was spent. It's just none of their business. Now, if you have a parent who keeps coming back is receiving child support and is perennially saying, "My children are destitute because I can't provide for them" or whatever, and they try to seek additional child support. If a court words entertain that, which most most courts wouldn't, because typically, to my understanding of the jurisdictions I've been in, there are statutorily presumptive amounts of child support based on incomes. But if that were an issue, then I think that would open it up to "Okay, well, then where's the money going?" But typically, it's just not anybody's business and you know, you're not together anymore. And it's not a good look, especially for a guy to try to be exerting control over the finances of their ex. That gets us straight into the Duluth power and control wheel, which is not a good idea to be trying to focus on how she spends her money. And to think that you have anything to say about how she handles her household.

Linda VanValkenburg  12:06  
And it is rather obvious if your child states to someone like myself, you know, it's just not fair that mom's spending this much money doing such and so, you know, because obviously, that has come from dad,

Ron Gore  12:20  
or the kids gotten on her Facebook account by and saw her down at the casino here on her beach trip with the girls. 

Linda VanValkenburg  12:30  
Yes, I was just thinking that.

Ron Gore  12:34  
So and that's, you know, and that's a word otherwise from moms, dads are quick to say, I've already paid my child support. I don't need to pay anything else. Moms are quick to throw dads under the bus or whoever vice versa. If it's, you know, alternative, I could get you this. If only their parent would pay child support. It's just too easy to throw the ex under the bus to not when you're not giving your kids something that they want. Which doesn't help anybody

Linda VanValkenburg  13:05  
No and it's just one of those things in the category of uncooperative coparenting.

Ron Gore  13:10  
Yeah, we should have a podcast on uncooperative 

Linda VanValkenburg  13:13  
We just might come up with that.

Ron Gore  13:14  
Uncooperative coparenting. Sounds like a plan. All right. Well, I don't know. I don't have a good feeling about this. This post. I don't like how mom's handling this post. I don't like dad's response. I'm like, I'm just grumpy about this one. Maybe that's a me problem. Actually go back to my closet and pick one shirt and one pair of pants to wear and just live my life on my own.

Linda VanValkenburg  13:45  
Somewhere there cut it off.

Ron Gore  13:48  
Before I started talking