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What things are my child support payments going towards?

As many of our California readers will agree, particularly contentious divorces have a way of sowing the seeds of mistrust between ex-spouses. This can create problems down the road, especially if one spouse is ordered to make spousal support or child support payments.

Here in California, much as is the case in other states, there is an expectation among payers that their support payments will be used appropriately and in a way that the court intended. In the case of parents, there is an expectation that child support payments will be used to cover the needs of their child or children. But if a contentious divorce has resulted in mistrust, the paying parent may have a nagging question on their mind: what things are my child support payments going towards?

It’s important to note that in California, the formula used to calculate basic child support does not cover a number of things a paying parent might think are covered, such as:

  • Medical bills that aren’t covered by insurance
  • Child care
  • Education and school activities
  • Travel costs for visitation

These added expenses can be accounted for with additional orders that must be issued by the courts.

So if child support is not covering the needs above, what is it going towards?

Typically speaking, child support should be used to pay for a child’s most basic needs: food, clothing and housing. But as our readers can see from the list above, there are more costs associated with child care than just basic needs. This is why our state courts allow parents to ask for modifications of a child support order and will make adjustments to account for any changes in a child’s financial needs.

Source: childsup.ca.gov, “Child Support Handbook,” Accessed Jan. 9, 2015