Child Support & Holiday Presents

Holiday gifts wrapped in brown wrapping paper with white dots and lines with a red ribbon and bow

What Can Child Support Be Used for in Alabama?

What child support payments are used for can be a divisive issue between parents. However, it is primarily up to the parent who receives the support to determine how to use child support payments. Child support is meant to be used to cover childcare expenses and ease the financial strain of having to cover child-relat4ed expenses.

Parents can use child support for any childcare expenses, including:

  • Healthcare
  • Educational expenses (daycare, tuition, books, etc.)
  • Housing (utility bills, rent, etc.)
  • Clothing and toiletries
  • Dental expenses
  • Food (groceries and take-out)
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Entertainment

Can Child Support Payments Be Used for Holiday Presents?

If you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or another upcoming holiday, you may be wondering if child support payments can be used to cover the cost of holiday gifts. As we said, the recipient parent decides how the payments are used, and while they may use them to pay for a portion of holiday gifts, they also may not.

Can Holiday Gifts Be Counted Toward My Child Support Obligations?

According to Investopedia, American holiday spending has increased every year since 2009. Even with the current inflation rates, the National Retail Federation predicts that holiday spending in America (on gifts and other holiday expenses) will increase to about $942.60 in 2022 (which is a $53,30 increase from 2021).

As the holidays can already stretch budgets thin, parents who pay child support often wonder if the gifts they buy can be counted towards their child support payments. For instance, if they buy gifts totaling $300, can that $300 be subtracted from their monthly support obligation?

The answer is no. Parents must still pay their monthly obligation even if they buy gifts. Failure to pay court-order child support can have serious consequences. Read our previous blog, “Enforcement of Court-Ordered Child Support,” to learn what specific actions can be taken if payments are missed.

Other Gift-Giving Considerations for Co-Parents

Here are a few tips concerning gift-giving and co-parenting that may be helpful this holiday season.

  • Collaborate on gifts if you can. Co-parents should try to work as a team and discuss what gifts they plan to purchase and what they are willing/able to spend on the holidays. A parent paying support may express their desire for a part of the support to be used to cover their portion of a gift purchase, but again, it’s up to the recipient if the funds actually go to that purchase. Collaborating on gifts can also help you avoid buying the same gift.
  • Discuss traditions/gift-giving plans. If either party wants to say Santa gave the gifts on Christmas or has a specific heritage symbol gift planned for Kwanzaa, you should discuss that with one another.
  • Consider setting a budget limit for both parents. To avoid feeling like either party is trying to buy affection or “outshine” the other party, parents sometimes agree on price limits for gifts or an overall budget limit for gifts for their children.

Consult with Our Trusted Child Support Attorney

If you or a loved one have questions about child support obligations or enforcement, Shaw Family Law is here to help. Whether you are wondering what you can use your payments for or need help ensuring your child has a financially stable future, you can trust our firm to help you navigate your child custody matter smoothly. Backed by over three decades of experience, our attorney can help you with a variety of child support-related matters including an initial petition, a contempt case (if court-ordered payments are missed), or a child support modification petition.

Contact us online or at (205) 259-7650 to speak with our experienced attorney about your case.