I'm currently 19 for some background...(in aurora Colorado)

My mom is a single mom raising me even though my father and her are technically still married. She made me get a job when I was 16 which I was fine with, but the catch was that I had to do it at the place she worked at and had to direct deposit in her bank account. I didn't understand why and she summarized that I live with her and need to pay for rent and her driving me around since I wasn't allowed to get my license. I didn't agree but she's a single mom so I understood. Over 1 year I got my license and I told her I wanted a car because I worked full time for 1 year and made over 15k. She said we couldn't afford it because she used that money to pay bills since we're only two people living in a huge house. I tolde her I understood but I still couldn't open up my own bank account.

I was frustrated and embarressed because I couldn't tell my friends why I couldn't drive anywhere or do anything because I didn't have money too. Another year passes and I'm more frustrated. I tell her before my birthday, I would like a car and she told me we stll don't have the money even though I contributed over 30k into our household. I continued to live with her as an adult because I had literally NO money into my name.

I'm 19 now. And my dad is now in my life and he told me that he paid half of our bills. I was hurt and confused I still have no car, I get driven everywhere I don't have money to do anything because I actually pay rent out of my bank account which is fine.

The issue is my mother lied to me, and I believed her. I gave her all my paychecks for 2 years in good faith. But the reality was that she wouldn't tell me why she needed the money and I STILL don't know. I've consistently talked to my mom for years and she told me I was ungrateful and I could leave. I'm just very frustrated and I want to know if that is legal for her to do. Thank you

  • Do you have your own account now?
    – Hart CO
    May 8, 2020 at 2:50
  • You should update your post with which country and locality you are in as rules and resources vary. May 8, 2020 at 3:24
  • @hart CO I have one she’s on and I have my own and I try to sneak money onto my own so she doesn’t take it out of my account directly
    – Hikoko4242
    May 8, 2020 at 4:13
  • This might be a better question for the law stack exchange
    – Prince M
    May 8, 2020 at 6:25
  • 1
    @Hikoko4242 What is your question?
    – JohnFx
    May 8, 2020 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


Things are tough in a divorce and it is a large cause of poverty. It is likely impossible to sort things out here, and one thing might be that your dad is stretching the truth. Perhaps he paid half the bills some months, but not all. It could also be that he did pay half all months, and your mom is a poor money manager. Budgeting and living within one's means is a skill and not everyone has that skill. In fact if you look at the statistics about credit card debt and payday lending, it would seem that most do not have that skill.

In the end it does not matter what your dad paid and what your mom did with the money.

So what can you do about the transgressions against your income? Nothing about the past but you can move forward.

The first thing would be for you to open your own bank account and have your pay deposited there. Then you need to change your living arrangement. No matter where you live you need to come up with a written arrangement about your living conditions and what is your responsibility to pay. Now you may choose to stay with your mom, move in with your dad, or rent a room/apartment/house from someone else.

Then you need to start building your own life. What will that look like? If a car is important to you then save for and buy a car. I would encourage you to buy a car for cash and not get a loan. I would also encourage you to learn budgeting, it is a valuable skill that will serve you well in life. In my mind there is no one better than Dave Ramsey.

An important component of all this is what will you do for a career, how will you earn money for the rest of your life?

  • 1
    In this situation your answer is realistic, as the amount is relatively small and even if there's a case that the mother spent it unreasonably, this would be very difficult to prove. But it would be good to clarify whether there are any limits on using a child's earnings in any amount for any purpose -- your answer could be read that there aren't, even if OP earned $30M rather than $30k. There's the Jackie Coogan Act with preemptive requirements, but that's specific to minors in California in the entertainment industry. ...
    – nanoman
    May 8, 2020 at 14:53
  • 1
    ... However, it seems that lawsuits against parents by working children after they turn 18 sometimes succeed even if that law doesn't apply. In particular, Coogan himself was awarded $126k in 1938 (yes, that was a long time ago) even though the law named for him wasn't in effect yet. And this recent article suggests that even a child not covered by that law might have "legal recourse" to "sue his or her parents at the age of 18".
    – nanoman
    May 8, 2020 at 14:54
  • @nanoman: If she was siphoning the money off to a personal account, that would be one thing, but it sounds like it is all simply being spent. If that is the case, all that suing would do is create bad feelings.
    – jmoreno
    Apr 24, 2022 at 1:45

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