What Should Child Support Cover?

child supportYou walk through the door after a long day at work and start sorting through the mail. You notice a note from your ex-spouse asking for money for Jimmy’s new soccer uniforms and asking you to grab a few school supplies for little Brittany.

But hold on; you’ve already paid your monthly child support. Why are you being asked to cover these other expenses?

It raises a question a lot of divorced dads find themselves asking: What exactly does child support cover?

Food, clothing, shelter

Generally, extracurricular activities, uninsured medical expenses, and educational expenses are not included in the basic child support amount unless it is specifically noted in the settlement agreement, although the laws vary by state.

Child support usually covers food, clothing, and shelter.

However, you should think about child support a little differently when asked to cover expenses you think child support should be covering.

Two-way street

Parents tend to think about child support as a one-way street, with one parent paying support for the children and the other parent using that money to raise the kids. But the way most states calculate child support is more like a two-way street. Each parent pays support into a pool and each parent takes a share.

Although child support payments are usually a set amount, the calculations used to reach that figure are estimates of the amount of money a child will need to maintain a standard of living they enjoyed while you and your wife were married.

Therefore, the support you pay is what your kids need while they are with their mother. You are still responsible for financial support during your parenting time, just as your ex-wife must provide support during her time.

Stay organized

You still need to be cautious. Make sure you track your spending when your kids are with you if you suspect your ex is using your support payments on non-necessary items.

It’s also a good idea to keep a log of what items your children bring with them when they come to stay with you and what they end up needing you to buy during your parenting time. Keep those receipts and request reimbursement for a reasonable amount.

If you constantly find yourself spending a lot of money on basic items your kids have, such as clothes or toiletries, this could be a sign your ex-spouse is misusing your support. This would be reason to investigate and to file a motion for contempt.

If you have any questions about how your wife is using your child support payments, it is a good idea to meet with your attorney. When you meet, make sure to bring your original divorce decree in order to show the factors the court considered when setting the original amount.