money-treeYou are a single Christian parent and you have a goal of giving a fixed percentage of your income to God. [1] You are also either paying or receiving child support. When you calculate how much you intend to tithe, do you include child support payments received as part of your income? Or, if you are the one paying child support, do you deduct child support payments from your total income before calculating how much you are going to give?

Tithing and otherwise giving to God can be a touchy and personal subject. There is always going to be someone out there ready to condemn the amount you are giving or the parties you choose to give to. I want to advocate a position here, but first I want to say: if you’ve prayed about your giving, pondered it out, and are giving with a cheerful heart, I am not here to tell you that you are wrong. I firmly believe that God honors special circumstances and that there is no one right way to give or right party to give to. [2]

Got it? Good. Because, that said, my position is this:

The Christian parent who is receiving child support payments should not tithe on the child support.

The Christian parent who is paying child support should include child support as part of his/her income and tithe on it.

Why do I say this?

Here are my reasons:

(1) It’s  already a “gift”—for the children. In theory, child support is provided in order to buy things for the children and support their needs. Clothes, toys, books, rent or payments on a larger residence, summer camp expenses, etc. It is the children’s money, given to you as executor of it in order to allow you to provide for them. If you turn around and give their money to others, then you aren’t using it to provide for them.

When someone gives you a book as a gift, do you go, look up the cost of the book, and then tithe 10% of the value of the book? I imagine most of us don’t.  In the same way, you shouldn’t tithe off of money that is given to you so that you can buy the children books (and other things).

(2) When you tithe on child support, you are paying a double tithe. Take an example: say that I (as the custodial parent) make $600 this pay period, so I tithe 10% of that and give $60 to my church. I also need to purchase a new bed for my daughter in the same pay period, a bed that costs $150, so I take $150 out of my paycheck to buy the bed, and then I give an additional $15 in tithes. Does that make any sense to you?

Neither does it make any sense when my ex-husband is the one who provides the $150 for the bed via child support. The single parent who is receiving child support should tithe on his/her own income only, and that brings us to…

(3) Child support belongs to the payor’s income, not the payee’s income. For tax purposes, in the United States at least, the payor is required to include child support payments as part of his/her income and is not allowed to deduct them in order to reach a lower income bracket. Likewise, the payee is not supposed to report them as income and pay taxes on them. As such, a tithe on the amount diverted to child support should be the responsibility of the payor, and s/he should pay it out of the income that is being kept after child support is paid.

Think of it as though the children were living with you and you were using your own income to buy furniture, clothes, and food for them. You would still tithe on that money. The only difference in regards to child support is that the children (usually) don’t live with you. You pay a fixed amount and your children’s mother/father/legal guardian gets to decide how that money will be spent.

Conclusion

As I said at the start of this post, my intention in writing this is not to condemn anyone. If you have prayed about your giving, and feel that you are following God’s will for your life, I am not telling you to change. But in pondering this subject myself and searching for how others have answered the question, I have hit upon a lot of different answers, so I hope this can provide some clarity and direction for those who are unsure about the matter.

——————-

[1] The questions of “on the gross or on the net” or “what % should you give” isn’t really relevant to this post.

[2] Full disclosure here: I am not at a place in my life or in my finances where I am able to divert 10% of my funds to giving. That is my goal though and I hope I get to that place soon.

15 comments on “Should you tithe on child support?”

  1. Do you have an email where I can write you, asking some questions and seeking advice based upon your past experience? It doesn’t relate to your latest post so I didn’t think it appropriate to post such questions / comments there.

    Thank you kindly.

  2. bridget.jack.jeffries (at) gmail.com

    I suppose I should have that in my about page. Sorry about that! Oversight on my part.

  3. I am paying child support and I tithe what I pay. It’s my portion of supporting my children. I don’t look at it as a gift, rather it’s my duty and obligation.

    Also, even if I didn’t tithe, I don’t want my ex paying tithe on the support I give for the children. It’s meant for child support and not something else.

  4. Always said you were a good egg, Lynn.

    And yeah, I agree that child support is more of a duty and obligation. But some men (and women) don’t see it that way… which makes it a “gift” from the US government. 😉

  5. Shouldn’t we as Christians teach our children to tithe? And it’s not what we want, it’s what God wants. Tithing isn’t just money. Tithe one’s crops, or trees that bare fruit or nuts or whatever’s edible. Tithe what you have in your garden. I want to be as close to God and obey Him as possible. Thank you for everyone’s comments and the article. God bless you all.

    • I do agree. I am in the Uk so taxes work slightly different, however, I tithe whatever goes into my bank..I am a Christian single mum student at university so I literally survive on benefits, student grants, student loans and the payments my sons father gives me.

      I could not imagine not tithing any of that. Don’t get me wrong, I have not paid my tithe on the odd occasion, but I have noticed a difference when I do not tithe. I had years of struggles trying to get payments from my sons father (not a Christian) to support my son, prayed a lot about it and out of the blue my sons father called me to tell me he wanted to start paying for my son. Even when my sons father has been out of work or we have had heated discussions (I do my best not to argue and show love to his dad), I’ve still received payments. I truly believe if God did not bless the money I have, there would be a lot of weeks where I went without! At one point, I was relying on a payment from my sons dad to buy food for the week..we had a disagreement and he refused to pay. I had £5 in my bank. I tithed it all and told God I trusted he would provide for me..guess what…2 hours later the money from my sons dad had gone into my account.

      I simply cannot afford to NOT tithe!! I tithe my childcare grants, everything and never ever go without and God always blesses that. He always provides when I am getting low!

      If it was not for Gods grace and blessing upon us, we would not have jobs, would not have a benefit system, would not receive payments from our children’s other parent. God is in control and don’t get me wrong, I am no way perfect or trying to put anybody down, buttt…without God we would not have what we have and I have just seen too many miracles during my time of tithing!! I am terrible at managing money but I am always safe when I give to God first. I always wait up until midnight for my payments and tithe straight away so that God gets my first and blesses the rest. Otherwise I would be in a financial mess.

      But we all have our own opinions and own relationship with God so he might ask you for something different to what he asks me. I respect that, but I could not leave this page without glorifying the Lord in what he has done in my life and hope to encourage you. If you aren’t comfortable with the full 10% or paying child support but would consider it, then start at 5%. That’ worked for me. Straight away God provided more than that 5% because I cheerfully gave and had the desire to do so.

      I will leave you with this bible verse and please do not think I am trying to make myself look good…not at all…I just want you to understand how important it is and how good God is!!!! 🙂

      Malachi 3:10 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

      • SO MY ? IS WHEN GETTING DISABILITY FOR YOUR CHILDREN should use tithe out of the kids income or just the parents incom

      • SSI for disabled children is a form of welfare based on low income in addition to disability. Personally, I don’t think we should tithe on welfare, but that’s just me. To each his/her own.

  6. Your article truly answered this pondering question I had. Now, I can have peace about it.
    Now, I have a question for you. Since you must believe in sowing and reaping. What are your thoughts on a one year challenge of double tithing, to see fruitfulness to one’s prayers? Accepting whatever may or may not come. What do you know of it?

  7. I just found this article and thought it was good, but instead of a “gift” because it is every parent’s obligation to support their children, I look at it as a reimbursement for expenses. If you were still together, your money would be pooled with each parent paying their own tithe. If you are now responsible for paying all the expenses, the child support is designated as a reimbursement for the other parent’s percentage of the expenses…just like insurance, medical bills, and child care expenses. It is not your income. A non-child support example would be if you and your friends went to a movie or a show and for the sake of easiness, you bought the tickets. Everyone reimbursed you for the price of their ticket. That is certainly not income. It isn’t money you earned, it’s money you were paid back for expenses you incurred for the other person. It is the same with child support. You are the designated individual to provide food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical care. It costs X amount of dollars, which you always pay. The other parent gives you Y amount to pay you back for their share of the bill.

    If you want to give more to the church because you have flexibility in your budget, it is a “gift” to the church. It is not a tithe and not required of you to give.

  8. “[2] Full disclosure here: I am not at a place in my life or in my finances where I am able to divert 10% of my funds to giving. That is my goal though and I hope I get to that place soon.”

    26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

    28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

    31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

    • I never doubted that I’d be clothed and have shelter; I doubted that I’d be able to give 10% and have food, clothing & shelter without going into debt. I was working with a church that was utilizing Dave Ramsey’s teachings and urging me to plan out every dollar, but there was no possible way to both plan out every dollar and give 10% and still have enough for basic expenses.

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