Contrary to some popular rumors, child support is designed to cover much more than the basic necessities. It is designed to replace the support a child would normally receive if you and your spouse did not divorce. So these payments should include extracurricular expenses, medical expenses, entertainment and tuition and school costs.
However, if you are the paying spouse, do not make the mistake of thinking this empowers the court to audit and review your ex-spouses finances. Except in rare circumstances, the court will presume that the recipient of child support is using the funds to support the child.
The question becomes how are these child support payments calculated? There are no set rules on what the court must consider. However, it can generally be broken down into a handful of categories:
- Medical care and uninsured medical expenses.
- Basic necessities, such as food, shelter and clothing.
- Educational costs, including extracurricular activities.
- Transportation costs.
- College expenses.
- Child care.
How each of these categories intersects to create a child support order depends upon each family, their situation and the court. You can rest assured that mandatory costs like clothing, food, medical care and school expenses are close to non-negotiable, but other expenses might be malleable. It is difficult to know for certain before speaking to a professional and appearing before a judge. The most important factor the judge will consider is what is best for the child.
If you believe that your child support payment plan was wrongly calculated or is being implemented incorrectly, then you may want to speak to a family law attorney to review the support orders. Often these orders can be complex documents that consider dozens of factors until a number is spit out in the final paragraph. A legal professional can help parse through the information so that you can get to the heart of the matter without too much stress.