Acceptable Uses of Child Support

Whether you pay child support to an ex-spouse or co-parent or receive child support, it’s essential to know the acceptable uses of those finances. It’s common for a support-paying parent to worry about how his or her ex spends the support money. A parent who pays support will obviously want to know that his or her payments are actually going toward his or her children’s needs and not simply furnishing an ex with extra income.

When a parent suspects that an ex or co-parent is abusing child support payments or neglecting to pay for the children’s basic needs, the paying parent may petition the court for a child support adjustment or a new custody agreement. The acceptable uses of child support include:

  1. Basic Living Expenses

Basic living expenses include things like rent or a mortgage payment, clothing, and food. A parent who receives child support may spend the support money on groceries and new clothes or may put the money toward rent and basic utilities.

  1. Medical Needs

Many children have medical conditions that require prescription medication, and accidents happen all the time. A parent may spend child support payments on covering a child’s medical expenses. During custody negotiations, the court will assess the healthcare coverage of each parent as well as other employer-provided benefits. The parent with better insurance typically covers the children’s medical insurance.

If a medical emergency arises that falls outside the scope of the custody agreement, parents will typically split the costs of these issues. However, if you have a child support agreement that covers these incidents it’s important to know you and your spouse’s obligations.

  1. Educational Needs

A parent who receives child support payments may spend the money on a child’s educational expenses. This could include school supplies for a new school year, field trip fees, or tuition for private school or college. Some parents develop long-term child support agreements that extend through a child’s college years. If your child drops out or fails out of school, support payments may end. It’s important to know the details of your support agreement and which events impact your financial responsibility.

  1. Travel Costs

A parent may use child support money to help cover travel expenses, such as paying airfare for a child to go on vacation with a parent. Parents who receive support may also spend the money on vehicle maintenance and fuel costs since most children need basic transportation access.

  1. Childcare Costs

If a custodial parent works, he or she will likely need to pay for daycare or a babysitter during work hours. He or she may use child support payments to help cover these costs as well as occasional childcare costs like a babysitter for a weekend date or holidays.

  1. Entertainment

Most courts generally uphold that all kids should have access to basic forms of entertainment like movies and video games. The parents may need to reach an agreement on acceptable forms of entertainment for their kids, but a parent who receives child support may use the money toward age-appropriate entertainment, within reason.

Problems With Child Support?

If you have proof your ex-spouse is misusing your child support payments or has failed to cover your children’s basic living expenses and other needs despite your payments, you may need to consult your attorney. You may have the option of pursuing a child support adjustment so you can be sure the money you pay to an ex actually goes toward your children’s needs.It’s a good idea to carefully stipulate your child support agreement in the beginning so that each parent knows his or her financial obligations. The best way to avoid child support issues and disagreements is to develop a comprehensive child support arrangement that works in the best interests of your children and handle one-off incidents as civilly as possible when they arise.