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What Can Child Support Be Used For?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

Divorce can rattle even the most secure parents. It can also leave those parents who don't have physical custody worried about how their ex-spouse is taking care of their children and spending their child support. This leaves many individuals with one lingering question on their mind: what is child support used for?

In a previous blog post, we discussed how one of Kanye West's lyrics from his 2005 hit Gold Digger depicted a woman using child support payments for liposuction. Of course, Kanye's example may be on the extreme side. Child support generally only covers expenses incurred when taking care of children.

Below is an outline of some legitimate uses of child support:

  • Basic needs including food, clothing and shelter. This includes related costs, like mortgage, rent, light fixtures, and utility bills.
  • Medical needs. All children need some form of medical care. Some states will require that at least one parent provide insurance. Child support can usually be used to pay for uninsured medical expenses ranging from braces to eyeglasses. Some states will require parents to split these uninsured costs.
  • Costs relating to education. Education costs can include fees for textbooks, clothes and uniforms.
  • Basic travel costs. Parents typically can't care for their children if they aren't able to spend money to transport them to various places. Child support may be used on car maintenance and other related expenses.
  • Childcare costs. This may include daycare, babysitters, and other costs associated with childcare if both parents are unable to care for their children.
  • Entertainment and extracurricular activities. Many states find that children should get access to basic entertainment such as movies and games. Child support may also be used to pay for some extracurricular activities like sports or summer camps.

These categories are only a broad outline of what child support can be used for. Different states may be more restrictive - or broader. If you have questions about what child support can cover, it might be a good idea to contact a local attorney in your jurisdiction who can explain the specific laws in your area.

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