Paying Grandma for After School Child Care: Yes or No?

Updated on January 31, 2013
K.H. asks from Naples, FL
16 answers

This question pertains to my husband's son, my step son. A little background: he is in 1st grade and his mother moved them both 1hr15mins away from his father when he was 6 months old so she would be closer to her parents. Very understandable but the distance has created tons of problems for everyone involved. Now my ss is in school so we have to address after school care bc her mom, an elementary teacher, chose to put him in a different school than the one she works at. The district is so large that they have staggered start times. Their school have different hours. She can take son to school but can't pick him up on time. My stepson doesn't like the school's after care program so his mother arranged for his work from home grandma to pick him up from school everyday and watch him until she gets to her house. She didn't pay her mother in kindergarten but tried to claim she did so my husband would owe her money. She didn't win bc she couldn't supply any proof that she actually paid her mother. So this year in first grade she made a point to say she is paying her mother the same amount as the school's after care program and wants my husband to pay 50%. In there shared parenting agreement they agreed to split child care. Receipts were to be submitted each month and reimbursed within 14 days of recieving. So far we got 2 emails one in oct for aug-mid sept and the next in dec for sept-dec. all checks were dated the same date, photo copied and sent to us for reimbursement. We r having a hard time wanting to reimburse her bc we question whether the checks r being cashed and money actually given to grandma. Grandma has never had her pay for anything in the past and even paid for daycare expenses even though my husband gave 75% of daycare costs from 6months to 5yrs old.

So the question is do we give them the money or not?

We feel it is the right thing to do bc grandma really is helping out but on the other hand don't want to bc we feel it is just another way for his mother to work the system and get more money out of us.

Oh and the kicker is my husband now needs after school care on his pick up days due to a work schedule change and he is being made to have his son stay at the after school program instead of picking up from grandma's house which he is already paying for.

Opinions please

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So What Happened?

We could make checks out to his grandma but same difference she can just hand it over to her daughter. I want to make sure grandma is claiming this extra income on her income tax statements bc by law u r required to claim anything earned over $400 and she is making $400 per month. Also we sometimes need child care over holiday breaks when my husband is working. I'm a stay at home mom so I just watch him. His mother hit the roof when we asked for me to get paid just like the grandmother. Also the grandma is just as sneaky as her daughter. We can't 1022 it bc we don't get to claim him on our taxes. Another young dumb decision my husband agreed to the mother claiming him every year on her taxes.

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answers from Detroit on

I would go with the after-care program. Maybe find out why he doesn't like it? They usually keep kids active and busy there, so it's really a good situation!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

unless i am mistaken, financial aspects of divorce/custody should be agreed upon and put in the agreement, right? if she needs more money from him, she needs to do it with the lawyer/s. it doesn't sound like you trust either the ex or the ex-MIL.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Biloxi on

I would insist that she utilize the school's after school program and then pay my portion directly to the school. Since the child is staying at the school's program on the days his father has to work the argument that the child (um, a 1st grader) does not like it is invalid.

If you pay Grandma, then make it very clear to Grandma that you plan to 1099 her at the end of the year and claim the child care expenses on your taxes. Which means that she will need to claim the payments as income also. That may well solve the entire problem when she has to pay taxes.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

The court wouldn't make you pay even with the checks. She is his grandmother. There is no way to prove she cashed the checks, even if she cashed or deposited the money there is no way to prove she doesn't just turn around and hand her the cash.

Cash is fungible. That means there is no way to prove a dollar in is a dollar out.

In our divorce, since we have joint custody, I am responsible for child care when I have them and he is responsible for child care when he has them. Considering it is 50/50 it is illogical for you to pay half when he is there and her to pay half when he is with you, you know? You would just be handing the same money back and forth.
At first I thought brilliant idea, make the checks out to grandma then you know she cashed them but you still have the same issues. Grandma puts the money in her bank and hands her daughter the cash.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Can't your husband send the checks directly to grandma?

After your update, I still say pay grandma directly.
What they do after that is between them. And the IRS .

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Here's what I think. If he's ordered to pay half then he needs to pay half of what the program would cost. That's all. It doesn't matter what the money goes to. The money is owed.

It also doesn't matter if the mom claims the income or not. It does not matter in any way to you. You can still claim the cost for child care on your taxes. All you have to do is show the canceled checks to the person doing your taxes and they'll take care of it.

You could also tell grandma that it's time for you to do your taxes and you need her SS# so you can claim her payments for taxes. I bet she won't even give it to you. Doesn't effect you anyway but you deserve to have that tax break.

Again, I know people who just show their tax person their canceled checks they use to pay for babysitting and child care and they are just fine on their deductions.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I would ask my lawyer.
In the least I would only pay the Grandmother directly. You might want to call the Grandmother directly and try to ask her how much she is getting paid so you can pay your half? Maybe she will be honest and say "I am not getting paid"? You never know? I also agree with the other poster to notify the Grandmother that you plan on 1099 ing her on your taxes, b/c child care can be claimed on your taxes...she might not want to be defrauding the government? I don't know about you but I am afraid of the IRS and she might be too! One can only hope!

The least you can do is ask for a copy of the deposited checks? Better than just photocopied written checks that you have no way of knowing whether or not they were even given after they were written. Even that is shady, b/c like Jo. W said there is no way to know whether or not Grandma is handing the cash right back to the Mom.

~If I were you, I would go back to Mediation or Court and have this issue addressed. It only seems fair that since you each need after school care but you are not being allowed to use the same sitter (Grandma) that I would suggest that each parent be responsible for their own after school care. I bet anything that if you were to show your 'receipts' to the judge or the mediator, they to would question whether or not child care is actually being paid out as well.

Either way, the Mother sounds like she is being shady and I would want this nipped in the butt like quick...after all you will have a minimum of 3-4 years of child care coming up so it's not like it is a measly amount or a small amount of time you will have to be 'maybe' paying when you shouldn't have to!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would just pay it. You'd pay if your stepson were being taken care of by strangers. Isn't it better that he's being taken care of by family? What difference does it realistically make to you who the money ultimately ends up with? Or if Grandma isn't claiming it on her tax statements? That is not your problem.

I get that it's galling to feel that you are being cheated by them, but when it really comes down to it, you would have to pay the money anyway if Grandma weren't available to provide childcare. Even if stepson's mom is keeping the money herself, at least you know that some of it will be coming back to your stepson in some form or other. And maybe if you're nice about it, Grandma will agree to provide childcare on your husband's pick-up days so that you won't have to pay for after school care on top of that.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

write the checks out to grandma. and let her and her mom work it out.

how does the child get to grandmas house after school on regular days? if your hubby is paying for part of the days at the after school care those days should be deducted from grandma's pay since it is actually going to the school. let mama go to court and fight it out. then your hubby can ask for every other year as tax deduction.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Or your hubby can pay grandma directly?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

IF she really is paying her mom then she can either get her mom to provide receipts (tax purposes) and/or he can pay his share to the grandmother vs the ex. Anytime something came up for the kids we preferred to pay to the provider and get a receipt from them.

If your DH also needs childcare, I would compare what she is asking vs what he is paying and see if they essentially end up even. I would consider subtracting the days he has to have their son in care because otherwise he'd be paying twice.

My DH could have asked for childcare from his ex (and he did not) but he rather felt that childcare on our time was our money and childcare on her time was her money. She didn't pay for us to have a sitter on snow days. Your DH should also review the court order to make sure what he does is in compliance with that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Grandma is stuck in the middle.
Just pay her DIRECTLY.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

If the aftercare situation at grandma's doesn't work for *both* parents, then there are two ways to address this: either your husband should be getting a rebate for the days he doesn't use 'grandma care' (so he's not getting billed twice for care) or his son should just stay in aftercare after his school day.

If this doesn't seem amenable to your husband's ex, he might need to go to court to have it decided. But it does seem unfair that he is paying for care he can't use, due to circumstances beyond your husband's control. If Grandma cannot provide the later hours of care, then they should do what MOST people would do in this situation-- find another care provider. I think that would be by far the most fair way to address this.

Ooops-- after reading your SWH-- just put him in aftercare at the school, let mom pay extra for grandma if she wants, and just be done with this mess!


answers from Boise on

Are the checks going to grandma in her name? That's what I would do. I get what your order says but you might to have it reevaluated to where you guys are paying directly to whomever has the child. Honestly beyond that if she claims she is paying then there isn't a whole lot you can do.



answers from Kalamazoo on

I would offer to pay 1/2 the afterschool program, which it sounds like you are paying anyway. I would let her know you are not paying for grandma to watch him. It will cost her a lot more than she can hope to gain to take you back to court over it. And if she does, start making her pay you to watch him and insist that you guys get to claim him every other year on your taxes.



answers from Dallas on

You may pay the grandmother directly. It doesn't matter what you think or feel, you have to follow the legal parenting agreement. Is she being a sneaky "B" and paying her mother or pocketing it? I don't know. Possibly. But you must cover your butt and follow the agreement or risk an unpleasant outcome from court. You can discuss it with your lawyer, but if they want to be sneaky, you can't really stop it unless there is proof that grandma was unfit to watch the child, which you haven't complained about and you would not want to open that can of worms and put the child through all that mess just to "win" over the ex, right? If I was doubtful as to where the money goes, I'd keep my mouth shut, keep every receipt and cancelled check (or bank statement, whatever it is for your bank), and then end of the year at tax time, I'd claim that childcare expense. That is income that someone was supposedly earning. Let the IRS sort it all out, if it's not being claimed as income.

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