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What Does Child Support Cover?

We get lots of questions in our office about what child support covers. The Form 14 chart is called a “Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations.” What does basic mean? Basic means food, shelter, and clothing. One of the premises behind the Form 14 child support chart is to equalize the standard of living between households for the child. Child support is paid so that as the child goes back and forth between homes the child does not experience living in disparate households as between the parents. The standard of living between households is supposed to be comparable for the child.

We are often asked, “Doesn’t my spouse have to prove what she is spending the child support on?” The answer is NO. No one must prove what the child support is being spent on. It is for food, clothing, and shelter.

If child support covers food, shelter, and clothing then what is not covered by child support?

Other extraordinary child-rearing costs are not covered by child support. These expenses include but are not limited to tutoring, camps, lessons, extracurricular activities, and travel. The definition of other extraordinary child-rearing expenses is “activities intended to enhance the athletic, social or cultural development of the child.” This is broad. You should think about what expenses your child has and will incur in the future that are considered extraordinary.

We encourage all clients to include language in their custody orders and parenting plans that address payment of these expenses in addition to child support. We are surprised by the number of custody orders that do not address these expenses at all. With the list of supplies and the changing costs associated with school we also encourage clients to include language about payment of required back to school supplies, lunch boxes, and backpacks in public school and payment of tuition and uniforms for private school.

For more information about child support and payment of expenses related to your children in the event of a divorce or separation please call us today.