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What do child support payments cover?

Depending on the type of child custody order that was issued by the court, child support payments may be issued to the custodial parent in an effort to help offset the costs of taking care of a child. Each state, including Missouri, has established specific guidelines for child support. These guidelines take into consideration all the costs associated with the upbringing of a child.

These costs go beyond the obvious costs such as food, clothing and habitable living conditions. Child support payments also are used for medical care, including health insurance premiums and dental and vision plans. They are also used for additional medical expenses not necessarily covered by insurance, such as co-pays, deductibles and surgery, as well as necessary over-the-counter medicine.

Child support payments also are necessary for the child's education. For elementary and high school students, this includes tuition, textbooks, uniforms, external tutoring and even lunch money. Payments also may be utilized for college expenses, even after a child has reached the age of majority.

If the custodial parent works, child support payments may be used for childcare and babysitters, as well. In addition, payments may be used for the child's entertainment and extracurricular activities. This may include, but is not limited to, television and internet costs, gaming consoles, trips to the movies, vacations and various outings, as well as school activities, such as field trips, sports equipment and fees, summer camp and any other youth organization fees.

As you can see, the costs of rearing a child go well beyond the basic necessities. If you are either a custodial parent receiving child support or a non-custodial parent paying child support and your situation changes, you may need to make alterations to the existing child support order. It may be in your best interest to seek help from legal professionals familiar with the field.

Source: FindLaw, "How to Calculate Child Support", accessed March 31, 2015

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