As you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are negotiating the terms of your divorce, you’ll need to make important decisions about which parent will become assume primary custody. While the court will seek to create an equitable child custody arrangement that allows your child to enjoy quality time with both parents, it’s typical for one parent to take on the majority of the custodial duties. In such cases, a judge may require that the non-custodial parent make monthly child support payments that are intended to support the costs associated with raising the child. It’s important to recognize that child support applies to essentials like food and clothing, but it also covers many more expenses that may surprise you.
Child Support Should Cover Major Costs of Raising a Child
The purpose of child support is to ensure that both parents are contributing to the financial costs of raising their child. As a child will typically spend more time with one parent, a child support order ensures that the custodial parent does not become wholly responsible for covering every cost. The non-custodial parent may assume that these payments are only going towards essentials like food and clothing, but the court recognizes that the costs of raising a child are steadily rising around the country. In addition to paying for these essentials, a child support order will often require both parents to contribute to the child’s health insurance in some way. For uninsured medical expenses, such as braces, glasses, casts, or other items, the non-custodial parent will be required to step in and help to cover these costs.
Some Surprising Costs
Depending on the circumstances of your case, the non-custodial parent may be compelled to assist the custodial parent in covering expenses such as educational costs, childcare, and transportation. If the child wants to participate in an extracurricular activity, the judge may state that both parents are obligated to cover the cost together. In some cases, the court may also compel the non-custodial parent to help pay for entertainment costs the child incurs, such as visits to amusement parks, outings, or camping trips. State child support laws give judges a considerable amount of room to determine a child support amount that is designed to support the child as much as possible. Ultimately, the court’s goal is to ensure that the child enjoys a stable and enriching environment that allows them to gain confidence and access the resources necessary to grow and thrive.
How Child Support is Calculated
When a judge calculates the amount of child support the non-custodial parent will owe, a variety of factors are taken into consideration. The court will look at the employment status and income level of the non-custodial parent, as well as the amount of support the child will need to enjoy a stable and secure standard of living. When the monthly amount of support is calculated, the court will not specify how that sum will be divided among various costs. The court assumes that, as long as both parents are participating financially in raising the child, it is up to the parents to determine how that monthly amount is used. It’s also important to recognize that the court understands that circumstances and needs change. If your child requires more financial support, or if the non-custodial parent loses a job or becomes unable to afford the monthly payments, you can seek a modification to the existing child support order. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that both parents are able to provide the financial and emotional support necessary for their child to thrive.