When a couple decides on a divorce, it's not unusual for one or both spouses to have some misconceptions about how the law works when it comes to child custody, visitation, child support and the like. Your family lawyer can advise you on legal matters that would apply to your situation in particular, but note a few common misconceptions here, so you know what to expect when it comes to your childcare arrangements after a divorce.
Receiving child support
Many persons assume that the parent receiving child support payments needs to provide receipts for how they spent the money. Some even believe that the paying parent has the right to dictate how that money will be spent.
Note, however, that child support is meant to help pay for all expenses related to a child, including rent, utilities, transportation costs, and the like. The parent receiving the support is not obligated to give an accounting to anyone, including the court, for how that money is spent, and the parent paying the support does not have any legal right to dictate how it is spent. The only exception might be related to funds that are paid for specific expenses, as agreed upon by both parties and the court, such as for health insurance or a private school. Even in this case, the court must agree that those funds will be spent by the parent for those purposes; otherwise, the parent receiving the funds is not obligated to use them for that purpose.
Visitation and support
When a parent does not pay child support as dictated by the courts, the parent receiving that support does not have the right to deny their legally mandated visitation in retaliation. Visitation and support are two entirely separate issues, and your lawyer can advise you on your choices when support payments are being withheld.
Agreements between couples
Couples are often able to agree between themselves on matters relating to custody, visitation, and support, but a piece of paper you write up is not enforceable in the court, nor will it always be accepted by the court. A judge needs to issue an actual decree for support and visitation to be enforced, and he or she may see that parts of your agreement are not in the best interests of the child, or may note that one spouse has been unduly pressured to concede in areas of visitation or support. Whatever agreement you present to the court, the judge will still need to review it, agree to it and formalize it for it to be legally recognized.