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What is Child Support Supposed to Cover?
Introduction: What Child Support Covers
Since the advent of child support, custodial and non-custodial parents have been arguing over what the money is supposed to cover. Unfortunately, many supporting parents are still under the misguided belief that child support is supposed to be used for groceries and clothes—and that’s it. The truth is quite the opposite: child support is supposed to cover a wide range of expenses, including things like family outings and after-school sports. For those parents out there who believe they are paying too much in child support, perhaps you should consider exactly what your weekly payments need to cover.
This article will address the general scope of what child support is meant to cover, including:
- basic needs
- medical care
- child care expenses
- entertainment, and
- extracurricular activities.
At a bare minimum, child support is supposed to cover the child’s basic needs—and not just food and clothing.
- To start, yes child support is used to pay for groceries, clothes (including school and “play” clothes), shoes, and seasonal outwear (like winter coats and boots).
- It is also used to help pay for the mortgage or rent, the electric and utility bills, the telephone bill, and yes, even the cable and internet bill. That’s because your child needs a place to live, working electricity, running water, heat, and a way to contact emergency services if necessary.
- Your former spouse can also use your child support payments to help cover the car payment and insurance, especially if she or he uses the vehicle to drive your child back and forth to school, sports practice, friends’ houses, and your place for visitation time.
- Your child is also entitled to basic entertainment, which includes cable television, and access to the Internet. Unless you are willing to permanently disconnect your cable and DSL connection, your child is equally entitled to have access to the same basic entertainment as you.
Education Costs and Resources
After accounting for your child’s basic living expenses, child support is also supposed to cover the costs of your child’s educational needs.
- For children in private school, this means part or all of the tuition fees, required uniforms, shoes, textbooks, and other supplies.
- For children in public school, this means school clothes, backpacks, notebooks, binders, pens and pencils, project supplies, lunch money, and any other costs incurred for educational purposes.
- If your child needs tutoring or has special education needs, child support is supposed to cover those costs, as well.
Medical Care Expenses
Your child is entitled to at least basic medical care, which child support should cover.
- This is not limited to just the premiums for health and dental insurance, but also co-pays, prescriptions and emergency treatment.
- Even if you are already paying to provide your child with medical insurance, your child support payments should help cover the additional costs incurred for your child’s visits and treatments.
Child Care Expenses
If your child is still young and needs child care, then child support should cover the costs.
- If your former spouse is working and you are unavailable to watch the child, then she may use the child support to pay for daycare services, babysitters, and other childcare expenses.
One of the biggest complaints that non-custodial parents cite is the use of child support for entertainment for the child. In fact, child support is supposed to cover entertainment.
- Entertainment includes trips to the movies, playgrounds, outings and other age-appropriate ventures. Your child has a right to enjoy at least the same standard of living as he did prior to you and your ex’s separation, and at least equal -- if not better -- than your standard of living.
- Extracurricular activities include after-school or municipal sports programs, school clubs, summer camps, and private activities outside of school.
- Child support should help pay for these costs—especially if your child was already participating in these activities prior to you and your former spouse’s separation.
- Even if your child was not previously active in extracurricular activities, he or she is still entitled to participate in age-appropriate endeavors if he or she so desires.