What Expenses Are Covered By Child Support?

If a Texas family court orders you to pay child support, understanding the details can save you a lot of hassle. In this blog, we’ll answer common questions about child support payments, including their calculation and usage for your child’s expenses. We aim to clarify your child expenses list and ensure you’re well-informed.

Child Support Obligor

The parent ordered to pay child support is called the “obligor”. The obligor, also known as the “non-custodial” parent, has the least amount of time with the child. The “custodial” parent is who the child lives with and will spend the most time with. This parent is awarded child support from the obligor.

Calculations for child support payments are determined by the Texas Child Support Guidelines. It varies based on the number of children and the obligor’s income. However, beyond this, little else is factored into the child support payment.

Few parents will have an amicable family law case, and most will leave with some hard feelings. Most child support obligors will want to monitor or micromanage how their child support payments are spent on their children.

Who Can Receive Child Support?

As mentioned earlier, the “custodial” parent is the parent who will be paid the child support. This child support is to be used for the children. However, sometimes an obligor may have suspicions that their child is not receiving that support from their payments.

It is not uncommon for an obligor to ask whether their child support can be directly paid to their child instead of the custodial parent. Some will even try to get around it. They question if they can set up a college fund for their child to opt-out of paying child support to the custodial parent.

The bottom line and answers to these questions are NO. Only the custodial parent can receive child support payments, also called direct child support. Unfortunately, obligors cannot impose restrictions on these payments. All child-related funds should be pooled for easy access by the custodial parent.

Direct and Indirect Expenses

Raising a child entails two types of expenses: direct costs and indirect costs. An obligor shouldn’t assume every dollar is exclusively for their child, as they may overlook various child-rearing expenses.

Direct expenses refer to payments made specifically for your child’s benefit and enjoyment, such as extracurricular activities, private school tuition, and luxury items. Conversely, indirect expenses are essential costs for the child’s needs, often paid to third parties. These include rent, utilities, transportation, and food. While indirect expenses may be less obvious, they are vital for your child’s well-being, ensuring they have a place to live, essential utilities, and transportation.

Child support payments are meant to cover the necessities of life, so it is good to know that an obligor’s child support payments will likely cover most indirect expenses. These are all necessities of life that the child will need, like food, clothing, shelter and utilities, and transportation.

Child support typically does not include uninsured medical, educational, or extracurricular expenses. Although these costs directly benefit the child, fulfilling child support obligations suffices. Payments, combined with the custodial parent’s funds, are pooled for the child’s care. While many parents strive to provide a comfortable life, custodial parents may request additional funds for private schooling or extracurricular activities. However, obligors are only legally obligated to provide what’s stipulated in the court order. It’s the custodial parent’s responsibility to manage within their means.

Child Support and College

Unfortunately, no Texas family law provision relates to a child’s college expenses. These are not included in any child support payments and must be covered aside from support in any manner agreed to by the parents or at the child’s own expense.

Relief Available to An Obligor

Understanding how little control an obligor has over the child support their child will receive can leave a parent wondering if the custodial parent truly is taking care of their child.

Unfortunately, little can be done in such instances. At most, a parent can petition the court to modify the existing custody order. However, it’s important for the obligor to understand that the focus of this new lawsuit wouldn’t solely be on money not being exclusively used for the child. Instead, proving the child lacks necessities that the obligor is paying the custodial parent to provide, like shelter, food, or clothes, will support a change in custody.

Apart from this, a parent must read and understand their order to ensure clarity regarding their financial obligations to their child. If you still have questions regarding child support, please contact our office to set up a free 30-minute consultation with a qualified expert on child support matters.


Having a clear understanding of child support payments mandated by a Texas family court is crucial for parents. By understanding child support calculations and expenses, individuals can navigate the process confidently. Informative resources like this blog provide valuable insights into child expenses list. It can aid parents in fulfilling their obligations responsibly and maintaining positive relationships with their children.


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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Child Support Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child support it’s important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Child SupportLawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our child support lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Child support cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, and surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.

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