Child support includes expenses such as food, clothes, housing, public school education, and health insurance for a child. While these are the fundamental prices, each category has additional charges. For example, in the general category of housing, child support is intended to contribute to the monthly mortgage or rent and utility bills where the child resides. We’ll go over what child support can cover in detail here.
What Does a Child Support Cover? Common Expenses
In today’s world, the costs of raising a child can be extremely significant, especially with rising educational and health-care costs, to name a few variables. The list below goes through some of the more frequent items that may be included in a child support obligation in further depth. However, because child support rules vary considerably between states, it is critical to verify the child support standards in your area to see how your child support coverage will be determined.
#1. Basic Needs – Food, Clothing, and Shelter
Children require food, clothing, and a safe and comfortable living environment. Child support can be used to buy groceries, snacks, beverages, and other food products. It can also be used to buy shoes, jackets, and other necessary clothes. In addition, child support includes payments for the kid’s relevant shelter expenditures (mortgage/rent, lights, phone, and utility bills).
#2. Medical Treatment
Most states require divorced or separated parents to provide their children with health insurance. The parent with the best employee-covered benefits is usually expected to carry the medical, dental, and/or vision insurance plan.
#3. Uninsured Medical Expenses
Child support payments can be used to cover uninsured or “exceptional” medical costs. Any out-of-pocket medical costs that exceed the cost of a basic health care insurance plan, such as co-pays, deductibles, and surgery fees, are examples of “exceptional” medical expenses. Child support may be used to cover these and other fees, such as dental braces, casts, eyeglasses, and other special health care costs, in many cases (especially if a child has pre-existing special medical needs). Parents must split the expense of further medical care according to state norms.
#4. Fees for Education (School Fees, Supplies, and Related Costs)
Even if a child attends a public school, education is not free; there are various fees and expenditures associated with supporting school-aged children. Thus, child support can be used to cover a variety of school-related expenses, including school clothes/uniforms, tuition, textbooks, lunch money, and private tutors.
Child support may cover the costs of childcare expenses such as daycare services, babysitters, nannies, or other childcare charges and fees if one or both parents are unable to care for their child due to work-related concerns. Child care throughout the summer months, spring break, and select holidays can also be covered in child care coverage.
Because children require safe transportation from one location to another, child support may be used to cover basic transportation and travel costs. The cost of maintaining a car, including gas, car payments, registration, and insurance, as well as the cost of using a bus or other mode of transportation, is included. For example, when a child travels to see a noncustodial parent who lives in another state,
Many courts believe that a child has a right to basic entertainment, such as access to computers, television programs, games, and the internet, as well as visits to movie theaters, amusement parks, camping excursions, and other outings. As a result, according to the parents’ agreement, child support may be used for a child’s age-appropriate entertainment preferences.
#8. Summer Camps, Sports Activities, and Other Extracurricular Activities
Child support coverage includes a child’s extracurricular activities, which often occur outside of regular school hours, such as after-school programs and classes, summer camp, sports activities, clubs (such as Girl Scouts), and other non-school-related activities.
#9. Expenses for College
Child support may be used to pay for a child’s college expenses in specific cases. Many jurisdictions believe that a child’s education should not suffer as a result of his or her parents’ divorce or separation. These states often require a noncustodial parent to contribute to the cost of college, even after the child reaches the age of majority, if the child is enrolled full-time and has not yet graduated.
What Does Child Support Include: Other Considerations
To determine the amount of child support that a parent may be forced to pay, all states have set child support guidelines. Courts take into account a number of criteria, including:
- Income and ability to pay for a parent;
- The child’s financial requirements; and
- The amount of support required to maintain a child’s current standard of living (if possible).
Although courts do not require custodial parents to demonstrate that child support payments are used for specific activities, there is an exception in circumstances where a child’s basic requirements are not addressed. The idea is that parents with physical custody of a child pay for the required expenses to raise the child, and hence, courts will not monitor a custodial parent’s spending habits.
Furthermore, if a kid’s needs change or there is a significant change in a parent’s circumstances, such as the loss of a job, a parent may be required to submit for a modification of existing child support. This process is aided when a parent acts swiftly to modify support following a change in circumstances.
What Medical Expenses Does Child Support Cover?
A support order should cover unusual medical expenses. Extraordinary medical expenses are those that exceed $250 per child per year in out-of-pocket costs. Extraordinary medical expenses, according to state law, include fair fees for:
- Braces and other dental work;
- Treatments for asthma;
- Physical rehabilitation;
- Surgical procedures;
- Vision care, which includes eyeglasses and contacts; and
- Any other uninsured chronic health condition.
Professional counseling or psychiatric therapy for diagnosed mental problems may also be considered an unusual medical expense by the Court. These expenses can be added to parents’ basic obligations and divided in proportion to their adjusted gross earnings. Parents may choose to pay extraordinary expenses on their own, without the intervention of the Court.
How Do I Know How Much Child Support I Have to Pay to Cover These Costs?
The amount of child support that each parent must pay is determined by a number of criteria. Colorado has regulations in place to guarantee that parents contribute a fair share of their income to their children’s needs. The recommendations offer worksheets that parents can use to calculate their child’s support portion.
Child support in Colorado is calculated depending on the parents’ income. The standards consider all of the parents’ economic sources, including:
- Earnings from self-employment;
- Pensions and other retirement perks;
- Interested Payments
- Trust earnings; and
Aside from income, child support takes into account which parent the child spends the majority of his or her time with. During the child custody process, the Court will determine how much parenting time each parent has.
Can One Parent Disagree With How the Other Spends Child Support?
In general, paying parents cannot simply contest how the recipient spends child support. Because custodial parents are not required to retain expenditure records, it would be difficult for paying parents to prove misuse of child support unless the custodial parent is clearly disregarding the kid’s health, safety, or overall well-being.
For example, if your ex purchased a luxurious automobile while your child went without food and clothing, you may request a child welfare investigation from the court (or child services). However, in most situations, courts and child support agencies will not settle a dispute that arises when a paying parent simply disagrees with the spending patterns of a custodial parent.
However, a few jurisdictions have a mechanism in place where parents receiving child support can be forced to account for how the money is being spent, but these procedures are not used for small conflicts over the use of child support. Some states’ statutes, for example, offer judges the authority to order accountings when necessary or when the paying parent demonstrates a compelling reason to probe the custodial parent’s usage of child support.
Should I Keep Track of How Much Child Support I Receive?
It is not always required for parents who receive child support to keep track of how they spend it. Courts and judges are too busy to be concerned about how custodial parents spend child support, and recipients are not required to keep a record of their spending until ordered to do so by the court.
Again, some jurisdictions have processes in place to force a receiving spouse to account for spending, but these instances are uncommon. The bottom line is that if there is no court order mandating you to keep account of how you spend child support money, it is not worth your time or effort.
Is It Possible To Change a Child Support Order?
Despite the fact that paying spouses rarely have the ability to successfully challenge how the receiving parent spends child support, every state allows paying parents to request a review (and maybe modification) of the child support order.
A request for a review or modification in most jurisdictions does not provide the judge or child support agency the authority to force the receiving parent to account for the usage of support money. It will, however, result in a thorough investigation of both parents’ financial conditions and ability to meet the child’s requirements. As a result, if the amount of child support is no longer suitable because of your ex’s work or your child’s requirements have changed, the order can be amended to reflect the new circumstances.
What Happens If My Income Changes and I Am No Longer Able to Pay Child Support?
You may request a change to your original child support order for support and custody. When the resultant support is at least a 10% increase or decrease from the initial order, parents can request a modification. Income fluctuations are common when:
- A parent is fired or demoted from their position;
- A parent obtains a new job or is promoted;
- The responsibility time of one parent grows, and the child spends more nights with them; or
- Health insurance coverage is changing.
We can assist you in seeking a post-decree modification of your child support order if your income has changed or you have cause to think your ex-income spouse’s has changed.
Which state has the lowest child support rates?
Child support payments are higher in the Northeast, whereas they are lowest in the Rocky Mountain states.
Child support is $100 higher in states that do not take a mother’s income into account.
Mississippi, North Dakota, and Texas continue to exclude mothers’ earnings from their computations.
Do I have to pay child maintenance if I don’t see my child?
If you are the child’s parent, you must pay child support even if you do not see them. Paying maintenance does not entitle you to see the child. If you want to see them, you should first try to reach an agreement with the person in charge.
Does child maintenance include clubs?
Unfortunately, the answer is almost always “no.” There is no obligation on the non-resident parent to offer additional financial support to cover the expense of clubs and other activities if they are paying child maintenance in accordance with the appropriate child maintenance rules.
Child support payments are necessary in order to provide a child with the same opportunities as if they were reared in a two-parent family. If you want to know what child support covers for your children, consider contacting a family law expert who can help you analyze the circumstances and guarantee your child receives enough support from both parents.