Parents who have custody rely on child support payments to assist in keeping their children healthy, safe and happy. Many parents who receive child support may have received misguided advice from well-meaning friends and family about how child support payments can be spent, or have been questioned by an ex-spouse about where the child support payments are spent.

Knowing the difference between common myths and truths about child support can give you some piece of mind about how these funds can be utilized. Read on for more information.

Myth: You can’t spend child support on nonessentials

Child support is meant for the children’s well-being. This includes emotional needs. Nonessentials are acceptable, such as restaurant meals with children, birthday presents and movie tickets.

Myth: Your ex can demand receipts or tell you how to spend the money

An ex-spouse may attempt to put pressure on you to provide receipts or an itemized list of everything you spend child support on. However, in the same way you do not have to tell your ex how you spend your paycheck, you don’t owe anyone an explanation as to where child support is spent.

Myth: The court will monitor your child support spending

One of the most intimidating rumors about child support is that the court will watch every child support penny spent. You may be particularly worried if you receive funds on a state-issued debit card. Fortunately, the family law courts will not keep track of your spending or tell you what to do with the money. The discretion is yours as to whether you will dedicate every dollar to essential items like food and clothing, or if you feel like using the child support to take your children out to dinner.

As long as your children’s needs are being met, you have a great deal of freedom when it comes to child support spending. There’s no need to constantly look over your shoulder when using child support payments to help your children find their happily ever after.