What is Child Support Supposed to Cover?

Every parent knows that children are expensive to raise. Clothes, food, toys, school fees, extracurricular activities, and myriad other expenses are necessary to support a child. When parents’ divorce or separate, these expenses do not simply disappear. To the contrary, now there are two homes, with two sets of bills, and often a child will now have two sets of clothes, toys, and other personal property. In the vast majority of cases, the non-custodial parent will be under a court order to pay child support to the custodial parent to help support the child and equalize the child's standard of living between the two houses. Child support is designed to cover specific types of expenses, and it parents commonly request clarification on exactly which expenses fall under child support. The basics such as food and shelter are obvious, but support is designed to cover much more.

First, clothes and shoes both fall under the expenses that are to be paid for out of child support. Notably, this includes school uniforms. What it does not include, however, are special clothing or shoes that are considered sports equipment or equipment for other extracurricular activities.

Similarly, certain entertainment expenses are also covered by child support. Admission to sports events, concerts, school dances, and the like are included. More popular is the fact that mobile devices, television subscriptions, and internet service, are also all included. Lessons or other special instructions are also included. The only exception to this is if the child support order specifically spells out a different apportionment of these expenses. This is a common provision in many parenting orders. Often the parents will both be obligated to pay a percentage of the cost of the activity only if they both agree to enroll the child in the activity.

The end result of this is that a parent paying support is not required to provide additional funds for these activities and items on top of the child support he or she already pays. The converse to this is that the custodial parent may spend the child support as he or she sees fit. Unless the child's basic needs are not being met, the trial judge will often not second guess the custodial parents’ financial decisions.

If you have questions about your child support, we can help you review your case and discuss your options. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 for an appointment.

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