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What Is Child Support Used For?

Generally speaking, child support is supposed to be used only for the basic necessities and living expenses of the child or children. Valid child support usage includes: food, clothing, shelter, educational expenses, some extracurricular expenses (at a reasonable amount), and medical or health care expenses.

Child support is not intended to be used for unnecessary items or luxury expenses. They are also not to be used by the custodial parent, or for other relatives. Violating a child support order can result in some legal effects, such as a contempt order, a court fine, or other serious consequences. 

How Can I Obtain Child Support?

Child support is obtained by filing a request with the court. This is sometimes done as part of a divorce or legal separation proceeding. However, in some cases, the child support must be requested separately (for instance, if the couple was never married).  The court will then conduct an analysis to determine who is responsible for paying child support, and how much is owed with each payment. 

Child support calculations are usually done based on various factors, including:

  • The child’s age, development, and background (including medical history and any special needs)
  • The financial background of each parent
  • Whether child support was previously paid before
  • Whether either parent has remarried and is receiving income from other sources

In most states, child support is calculated based on a percentage of the paying parent’s income.  A child support order will generally require proof of legitimate need during calculations.

What If I Need Help with Child Support Issues?

Child support can involve some very complex legal issues.  In most cases, you will want to get directly into contact with your state or county child support department if possible. However, in order to have your child support order be considered legally enforceable, it must be submitted to the court and approved by a judge. Without a formal court document, it will be difficult to enforce child support, especially in cases of non-payment. 

Additionally, many child support disputes can be resolved by simply filing for a modification of the child support order. This can be done by submitting a request with the court to have your order reviewed and modified. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Child Support Matters?

Any type of child support dispute or claim generally requires the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. You may wish to hire a lawyer in your area for help with child support and any other family law legal issues. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice and representation during the process. 

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 02-13-2017 12:26 PM PST

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