Often parental relationships are inseparable from financial control. Whether or not this is appropriate, it is a reality. When parents divorce or unmarried parents separate, there is frequently a child support order made in favor of one parent. The financial control has ended yet it is common for the payor of support to question whether or not the child support being paid is in fact being used for the benefit of the children.
This concern generally raises two issues:
- Can the parent receiving the child support be ordered by the court to account for the use of the funds?
- Can the child support be paid into a trust which designates how the money should be spent?
In California the answer to both questions is, no. Requesting an accounting of how the child support funds are used, or requiring that the support funds be paid into a trust account as a means of monitoring the use of funds, have each been flatly rejected by the state Court of Appeal.
With that being said, it cannot be definitively said that requiring an accounting of, or a trust for, support funds would be improper in all circumstances. The Court of Appeal has clearly stated that, even assuming a trust can be used; it must be limited to cases where there is a strong showing of necessity, buttressed by specific, detailed factual findings compelling the need to limit access to support funds. This is a very high burden of proof.
As of this date, there is no reported case in California explaining when such control and accounting of the use of child support would be acceptable. If you think it may be needed in your own situation, consult your family law attorney. But understand there is virtually no likelihood that current legal circumstances will change on this issue.