What Does My Child Support Payment Cover

One of the most common questions relative to child support is what exactly the child support payment covers. If a non-custodial parent is paying child support, should he or she also have to buy clothing, shoes, or toiletries for the child? Does the payor parent also have to contribute towards healthcare costs, or activities? This can be a huge point of contention between parents, as the custodial parent may continue to seek financial contributions while the parent paying child support exclaims “doesn’t my child support cover that?” The answer is- it depends.

Under the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, child support payments include the child’s share of expenses for housing, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment and unreimbursed medical expenses up to and including $250.00 per child per year. Child support payments also include miscellaneous expenses, which include transportation costs, entertainment for the child (including fees, memberships and admissions to sporting and recreational events), lessons and instructions, hobbies, toys, pets, video games and recreational/exercise/sports equipment. Additionally, personal care products and services, books and education costs are included. Therefore, a payor parent would not have to provide child support AND pay for a child’s clothing, shoes etc.

Additional expenses may be added to the child support calculation, such as the cost of work-related child care, health insurance for the child, predictable and recurring medical expenses (in excess of $250.00 per child per year), or other expense approved by the Court. Adding these expenses will increase the child support number, but the payor will no longer have to contribute to these expenses if they are included in child support. The parties can also agree upon payment of additional expenses for the child.

It is important to remember that child support is neither a punishment to the payor, nor a reward for the custodial parent. Both parents have an obligation to contribute towards the financial support of the child. Further, child support is a benefit for the child, not for the parents. In fact, parents are unable to waive child support, as the Court does not consider this to be a benefit belonging to the parents. If you have questions regarding child support, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney, who can properly guide you. Posted by Robyn E. Ross, Esq.