What Does Child Support Cover?

Child support covers more than the basic requirements of the child like food and clothing. In fact it covers a broad range of expenses including medical expenses, school fees, entertainment and extracurricular activities.

All states have developed their own child support guidelines. The courts use these guidelines to determine the amount of child support. These guidelines consider many factors including the income of the parents, the ability to pay child support, the needs of the child and the amount required to ensure stability in the child’s standard of living. The recipient parent is not required to prove that the child support has been spent on specific activities except when the child’s basic necessities are not provided. The courts do not monitor how the child support amount is spent by the custodial parent as they assume that the custodial parent is paying for the child’s expenses.

The child support laws and guidelines vary from state to state. Please check the law and guidelines in your state.

The following are some of the purposes for which child support may be used:

Food, Shelter, Clothing and other basic necessities

It goes without saying that children require food, proper clothing and a place to stay. The child support amount can be used to buy food and proper clothing for the child as well as for payment or rent, mortgage and utility bills of the place where the custodial parent is living with the child.

Medical Care

All children require basic medical care. In most states, separated or divorced parents are required to have some form of health insurance for the child. Generally the parent with better employer provided benefits must carry the health insurance plan.

Uninsured Medical Expenses

Extraordinary or uninsured medical expenses refer to the out of pocket medical expenses exceeding the amount covered by the insurance plan and include surgery costs, deductibles and co-pays. Child support can be used to meet such expenses. In many states, the uninsured medical expenses are required to be shared by the parents.

School Fees & Expenses

When a child goes to school, the parents have to bear the cost of schooling and the associated expenses. Child support can be used to pay the school fees and expenses including the purchase of school uniform, books, private tutors, etc.


Child support can be used to pay for childcare expenses including the cost of nannies, babysitters, etc. The support can also be sued to pay childcare during the vacations and holidays.


Child support can be used for the basic transportation and travel costs of the child. Travel costs include the cost of maintaining a car, gas, car insurance and related costs. It can also be used for buying bus tickets for the child or tickets for other modes of transportation. It can also be sued to pay the traveling expenses of the child while the child is going to visit the non-custodial parent.


Majority of the courts hold that a child like everyone else is entitled to basic entertainment. Basic entertainment may include access to computers, internet, television, visits to movie theatres, camping trips, etc. The basic entertainment must be age appropriate.

Extracurricular Activities

Child support can also be used to pay for extracurricular activities of the child. These are activities that occur outside regular school hours and include sport activities, summer camps, etc.

College Expenses

Sometimes child support may be used for college expenses. In many states, the courts require the non-custodial parent to contribute towards the college expenses even if the child is over 18 years of age and is attending full time but hasn’t graduated.

The courts consider the essential requirements of the child and those will be reflected in the child support order. Either parent can file an application for modification of the order if there is a significant change in the circumstances of either parent. Contact an experienced child support attorney near you to know more.

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