Tag: church

Do you pay tithing on child support?

Nothing is more frustrating to a sincere Christian than to ask the question, “Should I pay tithing on child support money I receive as a parent?” and to receive this kind of response: “It’s between you and the Lord.” 

While “it’s between you and God,” is important to your analysis of the question, and while you need to ask God to guide you in your analysis and your ultimate decision, “it’s between you and the Lord” it doesn’t really answer your question. It gives you too little guidance. 

What you want to know is whether you should pay tithing on the child support you receive or not pay tithing on it and why. I can and will answer these questions for you substantively. 

First, while you will find faithful, devoted, rational Christians who will answer your question with a “yes” and other equally faithful, devoted, rational Christians who will answer your question with a “no,” unless the church you attend has a specific policy on what is and is not tithed* there is no definitive answer to this question (don’t be upset, I will give you as definitive an answer as I can in the next paragraph). 

The answer is: no. Here is why: 

  • If you administer (spend) child support for the sole and exclusive benefit of the child(ren), then 
    • child support is not yours and thus not “your increase” and thus not money on which you pay tithing (Deuteronomy 14:22; see also Leviticus 27:30-33); 
    • and if the person who earned the funds out of which child support is paid has already paid tithing on it, then there is no purpose in “tithing” it again just because it has changed hands by being entrusted to you to administer for the benefit of the minor children. 
      • If the payor did not pay tithing on the child support funds entrusted to you, you are still not obligated to pay tithing on the funds, as they are not your income/increase. 

“But,” you may ask, “if I spend some of the child support funds on myself (and you can legally do that if, for example, you use child support to pay your rent, your heat, electric, and/or water bill or similar utilities), then is that ‘increase’ to me, such that I should pay tithing on that portion/fraction that benefits me?” I don’t think so. To explain further by way of a real-life analogy: 

  • I once had a job as a caretaker for mentally disabled adults during the day. Among the services I provided for these adults was taking them to the occasional movie. 
  • My employer provided me with money to purchase movie tickets for these adults, as well as to purchase a movie ticket for me. 
    • Obviously, they money my employer entrusted to me to buy a movie ticket was not for my own enjoyment. I had no choice as to whether I would purchase the ticket for myself or spend the money as I chose. 
    • Whether I wanted to watch the movie (or liked the movie) was irrelevant because the purpose of providing me with money to purchase a movie ticket for me was enable me to accompany the disabled adults I cared for into the movie theater to supervise and attend to them during the movie. 
  • The money my employer gave me to purchase a movie ticket for myself was not income/increase to me in any way. I clearly had no moral obligation to pay tithing on that money.

If you are obligated to provide housing, heat, and water to your children under the same roof as where you reside, then you cannot do that without providing housing, heat, and water for yourself at the same time. As long as you utilize those child support funds responsibly for the benefit of your children, then those funds are not income/increase to you. You have no moral obligation to pay tithing on those funds. 


*The original version of this question specifically asked whether the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints requires a child support recipient to pay tithing on child support, and the answer to that question is: the church has no specific policy on the subject. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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Does an ongoing divorce make one a lame duck at work?

I believe what you mean to ask is, “Does an ongoing Divorce make you unable to focus and be productive at work?” The answer to that question is: for most people, yes.

When Divorce Increases Productivity at Work

Some people actually find that a divorce makes them more productive at work because they find that their jobs give them something to take their minds off the divorce and a purpose into which to channel all of the energy and effort that would otherwise be wasted on worry, anxiety, and rage. But I find these people to be in the minority of divorce litigants.

When Divorce Decreases Productivity and Work Quality

Your question is better than you might have imagined. You ask a very important question because many people going through divorce do not realize until it’s too late what a deleterious effect the divorce is having on the quality of their work and/or their productivity on the job. I’ve known more than one person to lose his or her job as one of the unforeseen consequences of divorce.

If you are going through a divorce, make sure that you find some way to deal with the strain outside of work, so that you don’t end up taking it to work only to find that it places your livelihood in jeopardy.

What to do?:

I don’t like exercise, but when I exercise I can see that I can handle physical and emotional stress better. If divorce is driving you to distraction, get some exercise. It strengthens your ability to deal with stress, and it helps you get a better nights sleep.

Go to church. One of the primary purposes of church is to provide comfort to the suffering. If your divorce is causing you suffering, except the comfort the church offers. Hear inspiring messages of hope and forgiveness. Bask in the brotherhood of your fellow parishioners. Take your minister up on his or her offers to confer and counsel with you privately, if and when needed. Avail yourself of opportunities to provide service to others in need. Paradoxically, we feel so much better when we take the focus off our own pain in our efforts to relieve the pain of others.

Seek professional therapy or counseling help. Many of you reading this may think “I’m just going through a divorce, I’m not mentally ill,” but the fact is that for most people divorce takes a greater toll on them psychologically and emotionally then they imagine. Divorce literally can drive you crazy, if not permanently, then on a temporary basis at the very least. For those of you who are skeptical, you must look at it this way: if therapy or counseling is not for you, then put that question to the test by attending two or three therapy or counseling sessions. If you find that it does you no good, you can conclude that it’s not for you. But if you find that it is helping, you’ll be glad you had the humility to get this kind of help that you need.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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How can I prepare myself mentally for divorce?

I will answer your question based upon the presumption that you have already gone through the agonizing process of determining that you need to divorce. In other words, I will not treat your question as asking how you determine whether you should divorce.

How to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for divorce:

1. Talk to people you know and trust who have gone through a divorce themselves, so that you can innoculate yourself somewhat against the ordeal ahead of you.

  • Listen to what they say of their experiences. Pay attention. Believe their stories. Apply them to your own situation.
  • Ask questions (no matter how stupid you fear they may make you look; better to look stupid in the eyes of people who care about you than in the eyes of your spouse or the court).
  • Most divorced people are happy to talk to you about it. They feel good knowing that sharing their tales of divorce misery might help you avoid some of that misery or help you deal better with the misery yourself.

2. Accept that it will get worse before it gets better. Make your peace with this fact. If you go through divorce bemoaning how regularly shocked you are at hard and unfair it is, you’re just wasting your emotional capital.

  • Know (know!) that legal system doesn’t work as well as you believe. Not every attorney is competent or industrious. Not every judge is a silver-haired sage.
  • Even if your jurisdiction has dedicated family courts, your judge is not an expert on all things divorce law (it’s impossible to be). I know that may come as a shock to many of you reading this, but it’s true. If your judge is not a dedicated family court judge, he/she hears all kinds of legal cases, divorce being just one of them, and divorce is a subject judges almost universally hate, so they are not the most enthusiastic about them. And your judge can get jadged–fast–by hearing divorce cases all day every day and can quickly burn out.

3. If you can (and not everyone can), find someone you can confide in, someone who you can trust with your life. You may need to lean on this person for moral support, even possibly financial support.

4. If you’re a believing member of a religion (even if you have some doubts and questions), go to your church services.

  • See if they help you cope.
  • Church services give you messages of direction, correction, truth, and hope. Church can help keep you grounded.
  • Church services and your ministers can help you make sense of the world when divorce turns your world upside down.

5. Find a good therapist that you can use when needed.

  • Not because you’re too weak to handle this on your own (you might be), but because you want to be prepared and know where to get help if divorce strikes a blow you did not anticipate and cannot take. You’ll be glad you took this step in advance.
  • Know that just because you find a good therapist does not mean you must go see the therapist every week. You can see the therapist as needed.

6. Don’t take at face value anything anyone tells you about divorce. Do your homework. Be skeptical.

  • There are too many divorce lawyers, so the competition for clients is fierce. And so some divorce lawyers will tell you whatever they believe you want to hear so that you will give them your money. They will thus give you a warped and rosy picture of divorce, which will lead to you being deceived and fleeced. Buyer beware.
  • Your friends, no matter how well-meaning, generally do not know divorce law or procedure, and if you listen to their legal opinions or take their legal advice, you will, more often than not, be led painfully astray.

7. Be mentally and emotionally prepared to have very little free time between having to juggle the demands of your life and the demands of your divorce.

Your divorce is going to be, at best, a part-time job and at worst a second full-time job. But take heart in remembering it will only be temporary.

8. Think about and determine what really matters to you in your life. Nothing helps distill your values quite like divorce.

Divorce can break you or remake you. Divorce will hurt you, but you’ve been hurt before and you have recovered. You will recover from divorce too, so make sure that when you do you come out with your integrity intact. I used to think making a lot of money was vitally important. I sacrificed a lot in the pursuit of making lots of money. It didn’t happen. I wasted a lot in the pursuit too. I learned the hard way that while having enough money is vitally important, having a lot isn’t. I wouldn’t turn down a lot of money, but it’s not my life’s purpose anymore. I know what matters more. I learned from my greed and mistakes. I’m a better man for it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36 KJV) Don’t let divorce leave you broken and bitter. Divorce may rob you of some things, but don’t let divorce rob you of your decency and vision.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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