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Possible uses of child support

Some divorced Maryland parents have the misconception that child support is designed to cover only a child's most basic needs, such as clothing and food. The reality is that it may cover a variety of expenses, and parents may benefit from a full understanding of the purpose of child support.

The general purpose of child support is broadly defined. The central idea is to ensure that non-custodial parents are providing their balanced share of care for the child. Since non-custodial parents generally have fewer direct responsibilities related to the child's care, the support they pay is intended to represent the remainder of their responsibilities. Ultimately, it is the goal of child support to provide children with a standard of living similar to what they enjoyed or would enjoy if living with both parents.

Beyond clothing, food and shelter, child support is commonly used for educational and medical expenses, including college savings accounts. It may also be used for extracurricular activities, transportation costs and even entertainment. As long as the expense is related to the child's welfare or benefit, it is usually possible and legal to use child support funds. Importantly, the state does not generally monitor a custodial parent's spending. There is a level of trust extended to custodial parents that they will make spending decisions with the child's best interest in mind.

The amount of child support a parent receives is based on a variety of factors, including the child's necessary expenses and the relative income of both parents. Child support must sometimes be adjusted due to changing circumstances with the child or either parent. Custodial parents who believe that they are entitled to or need more money may pursue a child support modification order in court. A family law attorney can be of assistance in this regard.

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