Child support is always a very touchy subject for all parties involved. The parent paying the child support wants to make sure that the money is going to the child. The parent receiving the child support wants enough money to pay for all the child’s needs. Both parties can probably agree that raising a child can be expensive.
Child Support Covers the Basics
Child support basically covers the child’s bare necessities—nothing more. The reason why the amount of child support differs from situation to situation is because of many factors like a parent’s ability to pay and income. The financial needs of the child also comes into play. Financial needs mean the amount of money needed to maintain a child’s standard of living. This doesn’t not include the cost of living for the parent who is receiving the child support. The following is a breakdown of what California’s child support covers:
The necessities include food, shelter and clothing. Food refers to school lunches and other groceries. Shelter costs may be used to pay for rent or mortgage where the child resides. The money can also pay for the utility bills where the child lives.
Child support cover any educational expenses related to the child’s schooling. This can range from tuition, tutors, school uniforms, application fees and books.
Both parents are required to have health insurance for their child. There are times when insurance doesn’t cover all the medical bills. Typically, medical costs that aren’t covered by insurance is split between the parents. A parent can use the child support he or she receives to cover any outstanding medical bills.
Child support covers basic entertainment. These are age-appropriate entertainment like plays, movies and toys. A parent can use the support to pay for the Internet and cable since the child is using the services.
The courts do factor in any extracurricular activities a child may participate in such as summer camp, sports and music lessons. The extracurricular activities are considered any regular activities that happen outside of school hours.
Childcare includes cots like afterschool programs, daycare, babysitters and nannies.
Many parents paying support may not like the fact that child support covers transportation. However, a parent is allowed to pay for basic transportation costs. These costs include car insurance, car maintenance and gas. The costs must be used in relation to the child’s needs. For instance, if the parent receiving the support pays for gas to go on a vacation. If the child is not going, then it is not an allowable cost.
This is a gray area. Many parents have a separate agreement regarding how much a parent must contribute to a child’s college education. However, the parent receiving the support can pay for college-related expenses.
What the Paying Parent Should Know
It is a myth that California child support covers only food, shelter and clothing. The support is meant to cover a range of expenses including extracurricular activities and entertainment. California family court doesn’t require parents to prove the child support covers the above costs. It is assumed that the parent receiving the support is paying for the child’s necessary, basic needs. The only time it may require the parent to show where the money is going is when his or her child’s needs are being met.
Child support is fluid. This means a parent can go to court to a modification based on certain circumstances. Individuals interested in a child support modification typically seek the help of a family law lawyer.