Child support doesn’t just cover a child’s bare necessities, such as food, shelter, and clothing. So what exactly is child support supposed to pay for? It’s meant to cover a much more varied range of expenses, including school fees, extracurricular activities, and even entertainment. That is just a small sampling of what child support is supposed to pay for. There are many different costs to raising a child and child support has just as many varied uses.


Child Support Guidelines

In order to help clarify this pressing issue, all 50 states have passed guidelines to establish the amount of child support parents may be required to pay. The court takes into consideration such factors as a parent’s income and ability to pay, the financial needs of the child, and the child’s current standard of living if one exists. This determines how much child support will be paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent.

What the court does not do is monitor how the child support is spent. It is assumed that the custodial parent will pay for all of the necessary items for raising the child, thus child support does not need to be regulated, except in times where the basic needs of the child are not being met. That is when the court steps in. Otherwise, the decisions about what child support is used for are left up to the custodial parent.

Check out – Arizona Child Support Guidelines – for more information.


What is Child Support Supposed to Pay For?

Basic Needs
Of course, child support is supposed to pay for the basic needs: food, clothing, shelter. It can be used to purchase groceries for the child because children obviously need nutritious meals to eat. Children also need to stay in appropriate clothing for the seasons, so child support can be used to purchase clothing for them. In addition, children need a place to live; so child support can be used to pay rent or mortgage and utilities, such as electricity and gas.

 
Health Insurance
Even the healthiest child needs basic medical care. Most states require that parents carry some form of health insurance for their child and usually the parent with the better coverage will take the child on.

However, child support can be used for any uninsured or “extraordinary” medical expenses. These expenses usually include any out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, co-pays, and surgery costs not otherwise covered by the insurance plan. Other special healthcare costs can include glasses, braces, and casts. Also, if the child has a pre-existing medical condition that the insurance does not cover, child support can be used in that case.

 
Education
Even if a child is attending a public school, the cost of education is still pretty high. Child support is supposed to pay for this. It helps cover the cost of tuition, uniforms (or basic clothing), textbooks, lunch money, private tutors if the child needs them, and any basic school supplies.

On top of this, child support can also be used to pay for extracurricular activities outside of school, such as sports, clubs, and camps. Not only the cost of attending these things, but also any resources they may require, such as sports gear or trips they go on.

 
College
Sometimes, child support can be used to cover college expenses, even though the child is now older than 18 years of age (age that child support typically stops). Many states believe that a child’s education shouldn’t have to suffer due to its parents’ separation, thus the non-custodial parent will be required to contribute to the cost of the child’s college education in those states. The child must be holding a full-time schedule and have not yet graduated.

In these cases, the non-custodial parent will continue to pay child support up until the child graduates. That will go toward tuition, textbooks, cost of living, meals, and any other expenses the child has for school.

 
Childcare
Another cost child support may cover is the expense of childcare if one or both parents cannot watch the child due to work. Child support can be used to pay for babysitters, nannies, daycare, and the like. It can be used for these services during the summer months when the child is not at school and may require supervision that is normally provided during school hours.

Check out the article – Difference Between Childcare and Child Support – for more information.

 
Travel
Children need to travel to a multitude of places in their young lives and that’s why child support can be used for expenses related to their basic transportation. It can be used for car payments, gas fees, registration and insurance costs, or even the cost to use public transportation. Child support can also be used to cover the cost of the child traveling to see the non-custodial parent for visitation.

 
Fun and Entertainment
Many courts have ruled that a child is entitled to some basic fun and entertainment. This may include access to computers and the internet, TV, games, toys, and other things for the sole purpose of entertaining the child. Entertainment could include outings as well, such as an evening at the movies, a day at an amusement park, or a weekend camping trip. Child support is supposed to be used for entertaining children as well as taking care of them, according to these courts. Fun is just as important as education, medicine, and basic needs.


Understanding the Importance of Child Support

Children have many needs. They need to be clothed, fed, and kept in some form of relatively safe shelter. They need to go to school and have access to medical care. They need to travel and even have fun. When two parents split up, the cost of all these needs does not change. Thus, child support becomes necessary for the non-custodial parent to pay. It helps to ensure that the child still gets to lead a life as if it had both parents together.

Although not always court ordered, child support can be ordered by the court. However, it is not monitored and that is why it is important to know what child support is supposed to pay for. Anything mentioned above can be purchased with child support. As long as it is for the child, the custodial parent has leeway to use the money.