Child support is designed to allow the non-custodial parent to share the financial load for food, clothing, shelter, and other expenses of raising a child. Some parents wonder if it would be easier, wiser, or more beneficial to pay child support directly to the child. In almost every case, the answer is…no.
Child support is a direct agreement between the parents. There are many expenses that go along with raising a child. So, while payments made directly to a child may allow that child to buy themselves clothes and a little food, it would not allow them to pay rent or a mortgage, utility bills, insurance, medical bills and many of the other financial obligations that a parent handles. In most cases, a child is too immature in both experience and financial knowledge to handle child support money on their own. Therefore, it is better left to the parents.
The parent who has primary custody, or has a lower income and has equal custody, is entitled to receive child support. It is their choice whether to file through the court, in which case the amount will be attached to the payor’s wages, or to have the support paid directly. The benefit of having the court garnish the payor’s wages is that they will keep track of the payments and if any are not paid, they will automatically order a contempt hearing for enforcement after 30 days.
Despite the ease of wage attachment for basic child support, it may be simpler to have expenses that fluctuate such as tuition, camp fees, and before or after school care expenses paid directly to the provider. In those situations, you will be responsible to file for enforcement if the direct expenses are not paid.
Keep in mind that child support is based on a guideline calculation in proportion to incomes and is based on the total income of both parents. That is why a lower income household may have a lower amount of support than a higher income household.