Can Holiday Gifts Be Counted Toward My Child Support Obligation?

Over the next several weeks, parents throughout Illinois will spend hundreds of dollars (if not more) on holiday gifts for their children – including divorced parents. For some nonresidential parents (that is, parents with whom their children do not reside full-time), the holidays can be an especially trying time, financially speaking. While not wanting to disappoint their children by failing to purchase gifts, many of these nonresidential parents may find it difficult to make lavish purchases for their children because of the nonresidential parent’s child support obligations. Are there circumstances in which amounts spent on gifts or other items for your child can be counted toward your child support amount?

The General Rule: Your Child Support Obligation Remains Despite Other Purchases

Unfortunately for nonresidential parents, there are no methods by which you can obtain a credit to your child support obligation by buying other items for your child, whether those items are necessary or not. So if your child support obligation is $200 per month, and during the month of December you spend $200 on presents for your child along with an additional $100 for clothing your child needs, you would still owe $200 in child support for December. You would not be entitled to any “credit” toward your child support obligation.

Beware: Failing to Pay Your “Fair Share” of the Child’s Expenses Can Be Used Against You

This news might make some nonresidential parents wonder if there is any advantage to spending extra money on their children for gifts or necessities. Failing to make extra purchases on behalf of your children – especially when you can afford to make such purchases. The other parent can easily twist your failure or refusal to make additional expenditures on behalf of your child as evidence of your disinterest in your child or unwillingness to assume your parental responsibilities. If you are attempting to fight for custody of your child or increased parenting time, these accusations and allegations (if believed by the court) can result in your attempt to modify the custody or parenting time arrangements being defeated.

What If I Truly Cannot Afford to Pay Both My Child Support Obligation and Buy My Children Extra Things?

If money is tight this holiday season, it is better to forego the gifts and other purchases in order to pay your child support obligation on time. Courts and state agencies can coerce payment from you in a variety of ways, including by garnishing your wages, placing restrictions on your driver’s license, and even putting you in jail for a definite or indefinite period of time.

You should also speak with your child support attorney if you are having difficulties paying your child support obligation and paying your other expenses. If there has been a change in your income and/or life circumstances, you may be able to obtain a reduction in the amount of your child support obligation. Contact our experienced DuPage County child support lawyers today and allow us to help you better manage your child support obligation.