Generally speaking, it&rsqacuo;s difficult to monitor how a parent spends the child support that is received from the other parent.  For this reason, federal and state laws state that child support payments should be made in the “best interests” of the child.  But the reality is, most laws don’t specifically define what are valid usages of child support payments.

On the other hand, child support orders may contain some guidelines regarding amount of child support to be made each month.  Some orders may even specify which expenses the paying parent is responsible for.  For example, the paying parent should at least pay enough to cover the child’s:

  • Basic necessities like food, shelter, clothing
  • Medical and health care coverage
  • Education expenses (school supplies, tuition, etc.)

Once the payments are rendered, it’s up to the custodial parent to ensure that the child support is used for the child, and not for unrelated expenses.  Again, the difficulty lies in actually enforcing such child support orders and instructions. 

What are Child Support “Add-ons”?

After calculating the basic child support expenses, the court may factor in additional costs into the child support order.  These additional costs are known as child support “add-ons”.  They are calculated based on any additional needs or special circumstances of the child. 

Some examples of add-on child support expenses can include:

  • Extra amounts for medical expenses related to a child’s special condition
  • Extra amounts for the child to attend a special school or program if they are gifted
  • Moving or relocation expenses and other one-time events

Again, the non-paying parent cannot simply request for child-support add-ons without good reason for doing so.  The court can only require add-on expenses if it can be proven that they’ll be in the best interest of the child.

What are Some Invalid Usages of Child Support Payments?

A parent should not use child support payments for:

  • Personal leisure, such as purchasing luxury items or taking vacations
  • Illegal activities such as drug use
  • Supporting gambling habits or other addictions
  • Maintaining living expenses in lieu of working

If there is any question as to the use of child support payments, a court may intervene on behalf of the child and conduct an investigation into the expenses.  This can result in unnecessary interruptions with regards to custody and visitation schedules. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With the Usages of Child Support?

Child support issues can be very challenging for both the custodial parent and the paying parent.  You should contact an experienced family lawyer if you have any questions regarding child support orders and/or payments.  Your lawyer will be able to help you obtain an order that is favorable for your child’s best interests.  A qualified attorney in your area can represent you in court if any further legal action is necessary.