If you are getting a divorce and you have children with your former spouse, the courts may ask you to pay child support. Typically, the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent to help support the child’s basic living expenses. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce and the cost of living, the courts may give you specific guidelines on how much you will need to pay and the expenses that your former spouse will pay for with these funds.
How Do Courts Establish Child Support Guidelines?
During the course of a divorce, you and your spouse will negotiate or the courts will decide the custody arrangements for your child or children. Determining custody involves a number of factors, such as the financial situation of each parent and the impact of the change on the child. Usually, the parent who does not have primary custody will pay child support to the custodial parent.
The courts will establish a set of child support guidelines that the divorcing parents will need to follow. The courts base these guidelines on each parent’s income, the needs of the child, and the support required to maintain the child’s current lifestyle.
What Does Child Support Cover?
Many people believe that parents only use child support for basic necessities. However, there are many other child-raising costs that you or your former spouse can use these funds to cover.
- Basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter are the largest cost that parents typically spend their child support funds on. Your former spouse may spend this money on rent, groceries, utility bills, and appropriate clothing for the child to wear.
- Your child may also require certain educational fees, even if he or she is attending a public school. Your former spouse may use funds to pay for items like school supplies, textbooks, uniforms or school clothes, lunch money, and tuition, if applicable.
- A child also requires medical care, and child support can go to cover any uninsured expenses the child might incur, such as copays and surgery costs. The courts may ask you to carry some form of health insurance that you can cover your child under. Usually, the courts will require the parent with the best benefits package to provide for this need.
- College expenses are another concern since the rising cost of tuition can make attending a post-secondary institution difficult. Your former spouse may save a portion of the child support funds to put towards your child’s future college education, such as tuition and room and board.
- Courts want to ensure that the divorce does not have a serious impact on the child, and will attempt to maintain his or her standard of life in child support guidelines. Your former spouse may use child support funds to keep the child in activities he or she was involved in before the divorce, such as summer camps, sports, and clubs.
- Child support may also go towards covering the cost of childcare expenses while you or your former spouse are at work. Your former spouse could use child support to pay for nannies, daycare fees, babysitters, and other childcare costs.
- Your child requires reliable and safe transportation to travel to and from school, between the homes of you and your former spouse, and other activities. Your former spouse may use child support funds to pay for car payments, insurance, fuel, or bus passes, for example.
Child support must follow certain regulations and the parent on the receiving end of these funds must use them in an appropriate way – i.e., to support and provide for your child. However, not all parents use child support in a responsible manner. If you believe that the court is imposing child support payments that are too high or your former spouse is misusing the funds, contact your Indianapolis divorce attorney as soon as possible.