What Types of Costs Are Covered by Child Support?

What Types of Costs Are Covered by Child Support?

Child support is a key part of a divorce when there are children of the marriage. It is an amount of money that one parent pays to the other, usually the one with primary custody, on a monthly basis. Unlike other financial aspects of a divorce, child support cannot be negotiated. The amount is determined by the court with respect to the child’s basic needs and standard of living. However, there are limits to what types of expenses are covered by child support.

Arizona court guidelines require parents to provide “reasonable support” for their children. The main purpose of child support is to attend to the child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing and shelter. Health care is also considered a basic need, so child support also covers medical insurance, co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket medical, dental and vision costs. There may be additional expenses related to a child’s special needs, such as for physical therapy or psychological counseling.

Child support also can be devoted to a wide range of expenses related to the child’s well-being. These include:

  • Educational expenses, such as tuition, books, computers and internet access
  • Child care costs, such as day care and babysitter costs
  • Transportation, including travel between the parents’ homes
  • Extracurricular activities, including sports, clubs and summer camps
  • Entertainment, such as outings with family or friends

Child support generally does not cover college tuition or related expenses. Child support payments cease when the child turns 18 years old. That is the age at which many young people begin attending college. Divorcing parents often enter into voluntary agreements covering each of their obligations to pay for college. The terms of these agreements may include financial caps, such as a flat payment limit for a designated number of semesters. Since tuition levels fluctuate, an agreement might instead peg contributions to the tuition charged at a public university. Once entered into, these agreements are enforceable in court.

If you are a parent in the midst of planning for divorce, an Arizona family law attorney with experience handling child support matters can provide guidance on the financial arrangement best suited to your situation. Whether you will be paying or receiving child support, the goal should be to ensure that the arrangement is affordable and fair to both parents.

Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, Arizona dedicates its practice to family law, including child support matters. We have a wide range of experience in the field. Please call 602-789-3497 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.