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What Expenses Are Covered By Child Support?

If you have been ordered by a Texas family law court to pay child support, being informed about everything relating to the child support payments you will be making can save you much hassle. You might have many questions regarding the amount of money you pay for child support and want to know how your money is used for your child, and we will attempt to resolve those questions in this blog.

Child Support Obligor

The parent that is ordered to pay child support is known as the “obligor.” This parent is also referred to as the “non-custodial” parent with whom the child does not reside and will have the least amount of time. 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.

To begin, calculations for how much child support you pay are determined by the Texas Child Support Guidelines and will vary depending on how many children are involved in the lawsuit and the income the obligor makes. However, aside from this, not much can be accounted for in the child support payment an obligor makes.

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, but 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 by questioning 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 may receive child support payments, also known as direct child support, and there are no possible ways for an obligor to place restrictions or limitations on those payments, unfortunately. The reason is that all monetary resources for a child should be put in one accessible place or “pot” for a custodial parent to access.

Direct and Indirect Expenses

There are two different expenses associated with raising a child; a direct cost or an indirect cost. An obligor should not expect every dollar amount to be spent directly or exclusively on their child as there are many costs of raising a child that they may not be aware of.

First, a direct expense is exactly what it sounds like; the payment is made directly for your child for their benefit and enjoyment. Examples of direct costs include anything one would not typically perceive as being a necessity of life. These can consist of extracurricular activities, private school tuition, toys, designer clothing, etc.

On the other hand, indirect expenses are expenditures made on behalf of the child, sometimes to third parties, but are still essential to the needs of a child. Examples of indirect costs can include rent, utilities, transportation, and food. Indirect expenses are often overlooked in terms of what your child support pays for, but your child will always need a place to live, essential utilities, food to eat, and a way to get where they are required.

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.

On the other hand, child support does not cover the costs of uninsured medical expenses, educational expenses, or extracurricular activities. Although most of these expenses can be deemed direct expenses that will likely benefit a child, an obligor has done his part by paying his child support. As mentioned earlier, your payments and the custodial parent’s money are meant to be pooled together to care for the child.

However, most parents will strive to provide the best life they can for their children. Some parents will place children in private schooling, pricey extracurricular activities, maybe even down to putting them on a specific food diet. Therefore, it should come as no surprise when a custodial parent requests more money aside from the support they receive for a child’s tuition at daycare or to cover the cost of sports equipment and clothing.

However, an obligor does not have to provide anything more than he is legally obligated to do through the court order. It is on the custodial parent to find a way to live within the means that the child supports payments and their income. An obligor’s payments are meant only to cover the essential expenses of life.

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, not much can be done in these instances, and at most, a parent can petition with the court to modify the current custody order that is already in place. However, an obligor should keep in mind that the focus of this new lawsuit would not be to focus on money not being used exclusively 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.

Aside from this, a parent needs to read and understand their order to be sure of what is required of you and your financial obligations to your 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.


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