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Toronto divorce lawyers are constantly asked: “Can I control how my child support payments are used?

The short and simple answer is: No.

Does this mean that as the non-custodial parent you have no control or say over your child? The answer again, is no. Although the payor of child support has no legal right to dictate how the support payment is used, the payor has other rights dependent on the custody agreement. A Toronto divorce lawyer would agree that it is rare for the court to order sole legal custody wherein the non-custodial parent has little or no control and access to his/her child. Such an arrangement will likely only occur where the non-custodial parent is deemed unfit due to
concerns about the health and safety of the child.

More commonly, child custody arrangements such as joint custody encourage both parents to take on a large and influential role in their child’s life. Joint custody bestows each parent with equal rights in reference to major decision-making. These are not simply platitudes, but legally enforceable rights. Therefore, different types of custody agreements allow for varying levels of control.

A Toronto divorce lawyer will suggest that the idea of “controlling” child support payments may be misguided. Rather than envisioning the relationship between parents as one of control, it is advisable to view the relationship as cooperative. By fostering a positive and collaborative rapport with the custodial parent, it may be more likely that your suggestions as to how to spend child support payments will be more warmly received.

Money is a sensitive subject for many separated couples. It is often used as a mechanism of control and manipulation. A Toronto divorce lawyer would advise you to put aside previous conflicts and always keep the best interest of the child in mind. In addition, remember to respect the custodial parent’s legal right to use the child support payment at his/her discretion, while trying to create a supportive and healthy co-parent relationship.