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What child support payments might be used for

Arizona parents who are facing divorce or otherwise seeking child support might be surprised to learn that they could be entitled to more than just what is needed for their kid's basic needs. Although child support payments are meant to go to things like food and clothing, courts generally order non-custodial parents to contribute for many other expenses too.

Unless a child's basic needs are not being met, no one will regulate how custodial parents spend child support money. But, guidelines exist in each state to help courts decide how much each parent needs for their child. How many children a non-custodial parent is responsible for as well as his or her ability to pay child support are taken into account, but it is generally the goal to establish sufficient financial assistance for children to continue to enjoy the same standard of living as before the parents divorced.

Since continuity is important, child support might cover school fees and supplies, utilities and other household expenses, costs of extracurricular activities, health care and child care. Sometimes, money for basic entertainment like going to movies or theme parks could be included. Courts might consider travel expenses, especially when the custodial and non-custodial parent do not live near each other. Although not done in all cases, the costs of a college education might be factored into child support payments.

State guidelines tell judges approximately what to award for child support, but there is always leeway, especially if a child has special needs. An attorney could assist a custodial parent in getting the necessary child support by presenting the court with information about the child's needs. If circumstances change, an attorney could petition for a modification to the support order to better meet the new needs of a child.

Source: Findlaw, "What Does Child Support Cover?", December 24, 2014

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