What Does Child Support Cover?

If you are paying or receiving child support, you may wonder what it should be used for and whether there are other expenses of your child that are required to be paid beyond the regular monthly support payment. As with most legal questions, the answer is “it depends” and a consultation with your own lawyer is advised. Here however, is some general information.

Child support is to cover expenses for the child, including some general overhead expenses such as housing expenses, food, clothing, vehicle and transportation expenses and other day to day type expenses for the child.

The cost of medical insurance coverage for the child is usually included in the Missouri Child Support Guideline calculation (Form 14), though sometimes this is negotiated otherwise. The child’s uncovered medical expenses, such as deductibles, co-pays, dental and vision expenses are usually divided between the parents, either equally or in some other proportions, and are paid in addition to the monthly child support obligation. Form 14 presumes that the parent receiving support pays the first $250 per year per child of the uncovered medical expenses, but again this is sometimes negotiated otherwise.

Extraordinary and Extracurricular expenses of a child are usually not included in the Form 14 calculation and are paid a portion by each parent. This includes expenses such as scouts, lessons, tutoring and sports. These expenses usually must be agreed upon before a parent is required to contribute to the cost.

Child care expenses such as day care, before and after school care and summer camps can be included in the Form 14 calculation. In this event the costs are allocated between the parents proportionate to their incomes, through the Form 14 calculation. More usually however, these expenses are shared either equally or in other proportions between the parents, in addition to the regular child support amount. This is because these costs can vary significantly over the years. If a Parenting Plan states that each parent is to pay 50% of the child care costs, the amount of the obligation will vary as the costs change. If the costs are included in the total monthly child support amount, when the costs change, a modification of the child support amount would be required in order to adjust the payment to reflect to higher or lower child care costs. This is a more costly and time consuming proceeding.

There are pros and cons to how you negotiate your own child support arrangements that you should be sure to discuss with your lawyer.