Put Child Support In The Budget

Kim and her husband have custody of two of their grandchildren. They are receiving some child support. Her husband wants a year's emergency fund in place. Should they use that child support to build the savings?

QUESTION: Kim in Nashville and her husband have custody of two of their grandchildren. During the time they’ve had the kids, her husband has been fighting cancer. They are receiving some child support. Her husband wants a year’s emergency fund in place. Should they use that child support to build the savings?

ANSWER: You’re putting money in for the kids every day. You pay for shelter and lights and water and food. It’s not like you’re not supporting the children. So no, I think it’s first you build an emergency fund. I think a one-year emergency fund is heavy, but if he’s battling cancer, I understand that. Then of course you guys go about the business of building your wealth, and part of what you’re going to do with your wealth I’m sure is take care of these kids into the future. Just because the child support gets mixed into your household budget doesn’t mean the children aren’t going to receive the benefit from it ultimately. They do receive the benefit from it because you’re taking care of them. In this case, literally, you’re taking care of them when the people who should have aren’t. That’s a big deal. No, I don’t think there’s any moral requirement that child support money be kept separate for the children as long as you’re supporting and taking care of the children, which if you’re not, you shouldn’t have custody of them. I know there’s certainly not a legal requirement that you keep the stuff separate.