child support

Do Child Support Payments Have to Be Spent on the Child?

Understanding the Rules Governing Child Support and How You Can Use It

Raising a child is expensive. For primary custodians, that cost is even higher. When a child spends the majority of their time with one parent, that individual is responsible for more food, daycare, and leisure expenses. Luckily, the court recognizes this disparity in costs each parent is subject to and, as a result, will typically order the noncustodial parent to pay child support.

Child Support Expenditures

Child support payments account for three main types of costs. The assistance is intended to help a parent with primary custody of the child pay for:

  • Variable Expenditures: These expenses vary directly based on how much time a child spends with a parent. A common example is the cost for food.
  • Nonduplicated Fixed Expenditures: These costs do not vary based on the time a child spends with either parent. This is instead an expense typically incurred by the custodial parent alone, such as clothing.
  • Duplicated Fixed Expenditures: These expenses do not vary based on the time a child spends with either parent. They are incurred by both parents, such as housing costs.

These expenditures are necessary to fulfill a child’s basic needs. However, child support can be used for more than just food, clothing, and shelter. A parent could use child support for a variety of additional necessities and leisure activities for the child, including:

  • Childcare costs
  • Extracurricular activity fees
  • Health insurance
  • Medical costs
  • Tuition fees
  • Utilities

The Bottom Line

The custodial parent has the legal right to use the money how they see fit so long as they are still ensuring their child’s needs are fulfilled. This is because money is fungible or mutually interchangeable.

This means that if you use your $500 to pay your child’s school tuition and then later used $500 from your received child support to buy a new PlayStation, you still used the same amount to meet your child’s needs. It doesn’t matter if it was your dollar bill or the noncustodial parent’s.

If you have further questions regarding child support, our attorneys are available to help. Call us at (314) 648-2186 for a free 30-minute initial consultation to discuss your case today.