can I Make Support Payments Directly To My Child?

Child support payments are set by each state as a means of enabling a child to continue to enjoy a certain standard of living after parents are separated or divorced. Payments are intended to cover the child's basic needs, including educational fees, food, housing, health insurance, transportation, clothing and to some extent enrichment activities. As young children are not expected to manage their own finances, child support is entrusted to the custodial parent. In some cases a supporting parent may not want to make payments to the custodial parent, and, in rare cases, that is a possibility.


Generally speaking the responsibility for spending child support payments appropriately falls to the parent with whom the child resides most of the time. In certain cases a paying parent may object to the manner in which the money is being spent, such as when:

  • Parent is using money to feed an addiction to alcohol, drugs or gambling;
  • Parent is supporting children from a different marriage with the support money; or
  • Parent is not using money to provide for child's basic needs.

The Family Court does not involve itself in monitoring the use of child support payments. However, in extreme circumstances a parent may be allowed to make payments to a third party until the child reaches the age of majority.


When a child reaches the age of 18, or graduates from high school, whichever is the later to occur, the obligation for financial support may end. If parents have an agreement to continue financial support of an adult child - such as when the child is attending college - the parents can arrange to make payments directly to the child. If a child reaches an age and maturity demonstrating a capability of managing finances, the parents have the option to work out a direct payment plan. It may be helpful for the parents to discuss this arrangement in mediation.

A San Diego area family law attorney can represent you in seeking a modification of any kind in child support payments, whether you are the supporting parent or the recipient parent.

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