Having children can be rewarding but raising them may also be costly. While custodial parents may rely on child support, it may only cover the most basic needs. Monthly child support payments may not be enough to cover other expenditures like hospitalization, extracurriculars and recreational activities.
What child support payments can be used for
Child support payments are meant to ease the financial burden of raising a child. However, state law does not specify which expenses it must cover. In most cases, the custodial parent will spend this money to provide for the child’s essentials, such as food, clothing, housing and education.
However, children may also want to develop their interests and skills in areas like music, sports or the arts. These sometimes call for workshops or specialized summer camps, which parents may not have initially considered when determining the amount of child support to be paid. If both parents believe that these things are important for their child, they can choose to share the costs.
Otherwise, the custodial parent might be able to use child support payments to cover nonessential items such as the child’s recreational activities, vacations and other forms of entertainment.
The Texas Family Code does restrict how parents use child support payments as long as the money benefits the child. However, unless the paying parent is legally obligated to shoulder these expenses, they may not allocate enough funds to cover both leisure activities and necessities.
Other parental obligations outside of child support
Apart from child support, Texas state law requires parents to cover their children’s medical and dental needs, a separate obligation. Typically, the parent paying child support will also be liable for footing this expense.
However, the amount they pay for medical and dental support is capped at a reasonable amount, or no more than 9% of their total yearly income, and no more than 1.5% for dental insurance.
Additionally, should unforeseen medical expenses arise, such as surgery, the court may require both parents to split the amount. Generally, the parent who can afford to pay more will shoulder more.
Money problems are always challenging, but dealing with unforeseen expenses with your ex can complicate things. If you need help figuring out how to pay for costs outside of child support, talking to a family law attorney may give you some good ideas.