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Can you spend child support on anything?

One area of contention between parents when dealing with child support disputes is how the money can be used. Someone paying child support might believe that he or she should not be paying as much because it doesn't seem like the money is going toward items the child needs. At the same time, tracking every dime you spend and showing how it was related to a child's welfare can be tedious or even impossible, and courts understand this.

In general, the purpose of child support is just that -- to support the children involved. Courts don't typically nickel and dime the custodial parent because the assumption is that the parent is acting in support of the children, especially by ensuring that basic necessities such as clothing, shelter and food are provided. If you are paying child support but you don't believe that these things are being provided to your children, you might have a basis for taking the issue back to court.

Outside of that issue, however, and outside of a court order with some type of specificity, you don't have much of a say on exactly what your child support dollars go toward. They could be used to cover medical or educational expenses, child care, travel or transportation expenses related to getting children to and from activities or family homes and even college-related savings or expenses. Many courts might even support spending on basic entertainment expenses, including access to television programming, games, summer camps or outings.

Obviously, there is some leeway in how child support can be spent. Ultimately, though, it's meant to be used for the benefit of the child or children. If you are struggling to provide for your kids and you believe your child support payments are inadequate, consider talking to a lawyer about the child support guidelines in your area.

Source: FindLaw, "What Does Child Support Cover?," accessed Sep. 29, 2016

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