What is Child Support and What Does It Include?


At its most basic definition, child support is money to be used for the express purpose of child-rearing expenses such as food, clothing, and shelter. If you’re a divorced parent, you know that child support is anything but black and white.

Some parents view child support as a sort of bank they are depositing funds into with the expectation that that will cover all of their children’s needs and are then surprised when they find that they’re asked to pay extra for a new baseball uniform or dance classes.

Child support covers the basics and tries to cover the share that your children need when they are with the custodial parent. When your kids are with you, you are responsible for feeding them and ensuring they have everything they need to stay happy and healthy while in your care. It doesn’t come out of some centralized “support bank.”

However, not every parent is responsible with the money given to them for child support, so how can you make certain it’s going to your children’s care?

Keep Records

Hold onto your receipts when you’re spending time with your kids. Track your spending and look at what you’re being asked to pay for. If you are organized and document your spending it will be easier to spot suspicious spending and prove it in court.

Watch Your Spending Habits

One new pair of shoes a couple times a year isn’t cause for concern, but if you’re consistently responsible for purchasing everyday items like underwear and toothpaste, then there might be an issue of misuse of funds.

Start an Investigation

If you suspect that your former spouse is not using the money you’re giving them for child support, you can initiate an investigation and potentially charge her for contempt for diverting support.

Another reason you may be seeing an increase in your spending on essentials is due to your child support not covering everything that’s needed for everyday living. It might be worth looking at your original divorce decree to see what your child support payments are covering.

In addition to essentials, child support may also cover the following:

Medical care

Educational fees



Extracurricular activities

If they aren’t covered in your original decree and the circumstances with one or more of your children have changed (for example, new after school activities or a newly diagnosed illness) you may want to consider modifying your support payments to include one or more of these items so the other parent can afford both the bare necessities and these new expenses.

If you want to learn more about the factors that go into determining child support and alimony and how you can use them to your advantage, read our eBook “ 9 Tactics to Decrease Your Child Support and Spousal Maintenance Payments.”