What Is Child Support?

By definition, child support is court-ordered payments, typically made by the non-custodial divorced parent, to support one’s minor child or children. In other words, child support is a payment made by the parent that has the minority custody of the child to the parent that has the majority custody of the child. The purpose of child support is to dampen the economic impact of a divorce. Child support is also used to improve the standard of living of the custodial household, which should improve the lives of the children. In order for child support to be ordered by a judge, the child must have a genetic relationship or be adopted by the parents receiving the divorce. Even if the child was financially dependent on a step-parent, the step-parent is not held responsible to pay child support in the event of a divorce, unless there is a legal adoption by that step-parent.

Who Pays Child Support?

Child support is a payment ordered by the court that is made from one parent of the child to the other parent. The parent that does not have sole or primary custody of the child will be ordered to make payments to the parent that is responsible for the child. Child support is put in place to maintain the upkeep and care of the child. It also takes a great deal of economic stress off of the parent that has sole or primary care of the child.

How is Child Support Determined?

There are a variety of factors that a judge will take into consideration when determining how much child support will be paid. Some factors are the number of children involved, the income of each parent, and the earning potential of each parent. If joint custody of the child is ordered, another factor will come into play. The amount of time the child spends with the non-custodial parent will play a role in determining how much child support will be ordered. This plays a role because, in theory, if the child is spending a lot of time with the non-custodial parent, they are already incurring expenses while they are spending time with the child.

What Does Child Support Cover?

Child support is intended to assist in the financial responsibility that comes along with having a child. It is not just for the child’s basic needs, but it is intended to be used for expenses like entertainment, medical, education, extracurricular activities and more. The guidelines for what child support should be used for vary greatly from state to state. Some of the general items ha child support is intended to cover are:

  • Basic Necessities: Food, clothing, shelter
  • Medical care
  • Uninsured medical expenses
  • Educational fees
  • Childcare
  • Transportation/Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Extracurricular activities
  • College expenses

When determining child support, the court will take into consideration the essential financial needs that are required to cover the child’s activities. In the event that a child’s needs change or there is a significant change in the parent’s situation, it may be necessary for a modification of the existing child support. Contact a child support lawyer in your area.