What if my spouse is misusing child support payments? In 2013 Charlie Sheen reportedly filed legal documents requesting that a California court cancel the $55,000 a month child support obligation to his ex-wife, Brooke Mueller, for the care of their then 4 year old twin sons. The children had previously been removed from Mueller’s home by child protective services due to Mueller’s drug use. Denise Richards, also an ex-wife of Sheen’s, had then requested and was awarded temporary custody of the twin boys. Sheen argued that he should not have to pay Mueller for the care of their children when they are not in her custody. Mueller had gone to a drug rehabilitation program, which Sheen believed Mueller was paying for using his child support payments.
Child support payments can be used for any expense that is necessary for the child’s well being.
Child support is a monetary amount set by the court, which a parent is obligated to pay for expenses that are necessary for their child’s well being. In California, there is an established formula, commonly referred to as the “guideline”, which courts use in order to determine the amount of a parent’s child support obligation. There are several factors that are taken into account when calculating a parent’s child support obligation including: earnings and other income, the number of children involved, the amount of time each parents spends with the child, tax filing status, other child support obligations, childcare costs, and healthcare expenses.
California courts construe expenses necessary for the child’s well being very broadly.
Expenses which are deemed necessary for the child’s well being are construed broadly by California courts. Moreover, California does not require the parent who receives child support payments to provide a record of how the child support payments is spent. This is the position in a majority of states, with only laws in Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington permitting courts to demand an accounting of how child support payments are spent.
Therefore, a parent who is paying child support and believes the money is being used for a purpose other than their child’s well being has limited recourse in California courts. In order for the parent who is paying child support to successfully modify their child support obligations through a court order, they must be able to show that the child’s well being has been neglected or ignored by the parent who is receiving the child support payments.
In Sheen’s case, he may have been able to prove that the children’s well being was being neglected due to Mueller’s drug problems and the fact that the children were removed from her home by Child Protective Services. More often a parent who suspects that their child support payments are not going towards the care of their child is unable to prove that it resulted in neglect of their child’s well being.
If you live in Sonoma County, Mendocino County or Lake County California and suspect that your child support payments are being used for a purpose other than the well being of your child, a Beck Law P.C., child support attorney will be able to review the facts of your case and provide you with the advice and representation you deserve.