Fox Family Lawyers
Cynthia Moseley Fox
Attorney at Law
7751 Carondelet Avenue,
Suite 700
Clayton, Missouri 63105
(St. Louis)

Forcing Your “Ex” To Account For How He/She Spends Your Child Support Payments

Last week, I responded to a reader concerned that her ex-husband was diverting the money she paid in child support for his own personal benefit rather than on their two children. I wrote that, under Missouri law, someone paying child support to a custodial parent can take that parent to court to force them to provide an accounting of how much money is being spent on the kids.


This week I’ll outline how this can be done with only minimal support from an attorney.


The first step is to file a motion with the judge that heard your divorce, assuming that judge is still serving on the Family Court. If not, go to that court and ask them to assign you a new judge. It will likely expedite matters if you can provide the court with your original case number.


In your motion, ask the court under Chapter 452, Section 452.342 of the Missouri Revised Statutes to order your former mate to produce a summary of the expenses that your “ex” has paid on behalf of your children. You should ask that this summary be provided to you on a regular basis, such as every three months, and specify the form the summary is to take and the back-up documentation you believe should be provided, such as receipts, cancelled checks or other proof.


However, just because you ask the judge to do this doesn’t mean that he or she will. The statute requires that “good cause” be shown as to why the court should issue such an order. No matter how earnestly you believe that your “ex” is depriving your kids and frittering away your payments, you will have to demonstrate that there is a reasonable basis for your suspicions.


For example, have your children told you of specific instances when they have had to go without a necessity of life, such as food, clothing, shelter, education etc.?  Does their appearance….unwashed or overly frayed clothing, neglected personal hygiene…indicate a lack of sufficient care or resources for their well-being? If so, make a written record of what you have been told or seen, augmented with photographs, and include this documentation in your motion.


While filing your motion, instruct the court as to where your former spouse should be served with notice of your motion. Typically, service is delivered either at someone’s home or workplace. If your “ex” is employed by another (i.e. not self-employed), serving them at work is best because their employer is obligated by law to make sure the service reaches the intended recipient.


Once service has been completed, go to the courthouse to get a hearing date. While there, draft a “pleading” in which you inform the other party, yourself and the court of the date, time and place of the hearing. You should send the pleading to your former mate by regular mail and by certified mail, return receipt requested.


Prior to the hearing, subpoena your “ex” to bring certain documents to court, such as a written accounting of all expenses he/she has paid, whether on behalf of the children or not, and the source of funds for those payments. You might also want to subpoena the last two year’s income tax returns, and his/her year-to-date pay stubs. This is where you may benefit from the experience of an attorney.


Lastly, write down and rehearse what you want to say to the judge at the hearing. Even though the judge will have read your motion and any response provided by your “ex”, what is said, if said well, is what will be most remembered when it comes time to issue a ruling. Tell the judge why you’re there and why you believe your former mate is failing to adequately provide for your children with the funds you have supplied. Again, this is where an experienced attorney can help marshal your arguments and presentation ahead of time.