Explaining to Kids About Child Support

Jodee Redmond
The best policy is not to discuss child support issues in front of the children.

When it comes to explaining to kids about child support, how should custodial parents address this issue?

Thoughts About Explaining to Kids About Child Support

Divorce is difficult on all members of a family, including the children. Matters such as custody and child support are adult issues. The details should not be shared with the child. Children need to know that even though their parents are no longer together, both parents love them and will be involved in raising them.

Money Matters

When parents decide to separate, changes will likely have to be made to the family budget. The family income will now be used to fund two households - not just one. Some parents choose to be very frank with their children about the family budget and what they can and cannot afford to provide for their kids. Other parents decide to keep financial details private.The decision about how much information to share with children will depend on your own preferences as well as the age and maturity of the children involved. Perhaps the best policy is to explain to them that it's your job as a parent to make sure that their needs are provided for. When it comes to extras such as sports, clubs, and other activities, however, decisions will be made based on whether these costs will fit into the budget.

Talking About the Other Parent

It may be tempting to consider explaining to kids about child support and other details about the financial issues surrounding your divorce. If you need help dealing with financial or legal issues, seek help from a professional experienced in these matters. It's tempting to talk to your children when you feel frustrated, angry, or scared. While this may make you feel better, they really shouldn't have to be exposed to these matters. Your children have enough to deal with concerning their own feelings about the divorce. Children are very aware that they came from both parents. When you put down the other parent, you are actually insulting your child. It may not be easy to keep your tone neutral in front of your children, but it is the right thing to do.

Visitation and Child Support

Visitation and child support are two separate issues. Do not limit your former spouse's access to the child/children if support payments are not up to date. If a court order is in effect granting the other parent a certain amount of visitation, you may face legal consequences if you refuse to comply. It's important to your children that they are able to maintain a relationship with their other parent.

Collecting Unpaid Child Support

If child support is not being paid on time, you have some options for collecting payments:

  • You can try to collect the money yourself by discussing the situation with your former spouse.
  • You can hire an attorney to assist you. This is an effective but expensive option.
  • Contacting the child support enforcement in your agency for help is an option, but it may take some time before your receive support payments.
  • Hire a child support collection agency. These companies collect a fee if they recover money for you.

Whichever option you choose to collect child support payments owed to you, this is private matter between you and your former spouse. The children should not be involved in the process of trying to decide which option you should choose. If your former spouse makes comments about you to the children, resist the urge to respond in kind. Taking the high road may be difficult, but you need to address these issues in the appropriate forum and keep your children out of it.

Explaining to Kids About Child Support