Should I thank my child's father for paying child support?

That depends on your relationship with your child's father. You'll have to consider the situation carefully; while he might appreciate the gesture, it could also seem passive aggressive.

Father saying goodbye to his young daughter in the hallway while mother looks on

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • How will the father interpret the gesture? If you've got a decent relationship with your child's father, you should have a decent idea of his mindset. If child support payments are causing stress, but he seems dedicated to being involved in your child's life, thanking him could be a positive gesture.
    If, however, you're not on friendly terms with your ex, a simple “thanks" might seem like you're celebrating the fact that he has to make payments. The way that you deliver the message will certainly make a difference, but if you're on the fence at all, you probably shouldn't thank him.
  • Are you still fighting your ex in court? Most attorneys will recommend minimizing contact when you're working through serious legal issues. While it's unlikely that a simple “thanks" will negatively affect your position, you might want to avoid unnecessary communications until the legal issues are resolved.
  • Is the father complying with child support obligations in a timely manner? If your ex has been inconsistent with payments, there's certainly no reason to thank him—and the gesture probably won't seem too genuine.
    In 2011, men only made 61 percent of their child support payments, and if you're dealing with an irresponsible ex, you're undoubtedly frustrated. With that in mind, you should only consider an expression of gratitude if you actually feel gratitude. Otherwise, it's possible that you're still harboring ill feelings and you want a guilt-free way to start an argument.
  • Could you thank him in a different way? Even if you're on good terms with your ex, saying "thanks for the child support" might seem slightly odd. Saying something like “thanks for being a great father" could be a much healthier way to express the sentiment (provided, of course, that he's a great father). Assuming that he's in your child's life, he probably won't want to be reduced to his financial obligations, so try acknowledging his other efforts.

Ultimately, this is a gray area in etiquette. You'll have to look at the situation carefully to determine what's right for you. With that said, there's certainly nothing wrong with being polite. The safest course of action is probably to thank him for being a father, and let him know that you recognize his efforts—but don't bring up the money specifically.