Do I have to pay daycare if my child support is already paid?

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Do I have to pay daycare if my child support is already paid?

I’ve paid my wife (not divorced yet) child support for 2 kids in advance for 4 months with her permission so I could continue going to school. I watch them 4+ days out of the week after school, and sometimes skip if I have to. Today she says shes no longer letting me watch them and putting them in daycare and that I have to pay it. My son is a special needs child and I don’t want him or my daughter in there when I can give them the proper attention and help myself. Do I really have to pay this, even if I object to it?

Asked on September 12, 2011 under Family Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The best answer is maybe… and mainly because you are still married.  Texas is a community property state, and to a great extent a community debt state.  Until a divorce decree says otherwise, your stuff is her stuff and her debt is your debt.  There are some exceptions to these general rules (which tend to be fact specific).  If you do not want to pay for daycare, your wife cannot force you to do so without a court order.  However, if she racks up a daycare bill and they send you a collection notice, then you could potentially be liable for the debt.  Most daycares, however, do not allow children to continue attending when a balance has become delinquent—so you may be insulated from greater exposure by general daycare practices.  You may also want to call the daycare and let them know that you are not putting your name on the daycare agreement as a responsible party.  It may not protect you completely, but it will provoke them to ask more questions about who is going to pay--- directed at your wife.  To protect yourself from this debt, or any other debt for that matter, you really need to get the divorce going and ask for temporary orders that prevent either side from incurring more debt.  If you can care for the children at home, you may also seek temporary orders that allow you do provide care at home and an order that prevents her from enrolling them in daycare.  You mention that you are paying child support, but you do not specify whether it is per a court order, or just voluntarily.  Either way, temporary orders should address that issue as well.  You do not want your voluntary payments to be deemed “gifts” and then have her hit you for back child support later.  Instead of paying for the daycare, take the funds and get a good consultation with a family attorney about other options and protections that may be available in your case.


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