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What kind of expenses should child support cover?

If you're a divorcing (or soon-to-be divorcing) parent, whether you'll be the one receiving or paying child support, it's essential to understand what kind of expenses it's intended to cover. Many people think that child support is only supposed to take care of a child's minimum necessities, such as clothing, food, housing and perhaps medical care and school supplies. However, it's much broader than that.

Child support is meant to help cover all of the expenses involved in raising a child. This includes basic entertainment needs. That doesn't mean that a parent should be required to spring for a big-screen TV for a child's bedroom or buy every new incarnation of the iPhone. However, it usually includes things like movies, trips to the local theme park, video games and Internet access.

Expenses for extracurricular activities are also factored in. Your child may be on a team or involved in an activity like scouting that requires uniforms, dues and equipment. A child may be taking guitar lessons or a mixed martial arts class. Expenses for these are often considered a reasonable part of child support. So are day care or after-school care expenses if the custodial parent works.

Of course, if parents can't work out a child support agreement with the help of their attorneys and the matter goes before a judge, he or she will look at each parent's income and assets as well as what are reasonable child care expenses given the standard of living the child is used to.

Certainly all children have unique interests and needs. One child may require tutoring, for example. Another may be a piano prodigy who has been studying with one of the best piano teachers in South Florida. Yet another child may have a disability that requires physical therapy, medical care by specialists and equipment or upgrades to the home or vehicle for accessibility.

If you and your co-parent will be negotiating child support obligations, your Florida family law attorney can help you determine a reasonable figure. Of course, this likely needs to be modified as your children get older and their needs and interests change. Whichever side of the child support equation you're on, your attorney can guide you through the process and help you work to make it as conflict-free as possible and focus on the best interests of your children.

Source: FindLaw, "What Does Child Support Cover?," accessed May 11, 2018

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