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Are There Any Restrictions on How Child Support Money Can Be Used?

One of the pertinent issues divorcing parties must discuss is how to care for their children, especially if the minors are under 18 or still in college. Child support can be a contentious issue, and it can be difficult for the parents to reach an agreement outside the court. Thus, the court will make the final determination of each parent’s primary child support obligation.

If you’re a non-custodial parent, establish how the custodial parent uses your child support payments. While there is flexibility on how the custodial parent can use child support, there are some basic ways in which the money should and should not be used. Talk to an experienced divorce lawyer in Houston to understand what Texas child support law stipulates.

What Should Child Support Cover?

Child support is money intended for the provision of the child’s needs. Many parents who pay child support believe the money should go towards tangible items related to the child, such as clothes, food, or toys. However, a parent can use child support for other child-related expenses and welfare. A child support lawyer in Houston explains more about child support.

Basic Needs

At the very least, child support payments should go towards meeting the basic living needs of the child. A child needs food, clothing, and a safe and comfortable home. Child support can go towards purchasing snacks, groceries, beverages, and other food items as necessary. It may also be used to buy appropriate clothing for the child.

Basic child support coverage also includes the child’s related living expenses. That means it can go towards mortgage or rent payment for the house the child lives in with the custodial parent. It may also cover lighting, utility, and telephone bills. Contact a Houston child support lawyer if you’re worried that your child support payments aren’t being used for the intended purpose.

Health Care

When parents are divorcing, they should agree on how to meet their child’s medical costs and related expenses. Child support calculations often add a monthly amount for healthcare to the child support award. The amount may not be large enough to cover extraordinary medical costs like braces or hospital visits, but it’s enough to meet the child’s primary medical coverage.

In most cases, the parent with better employer-based health insurance coverage will be required to provide medical, dental, or vision insurance coverage. Courts and child support agencies may also determine the parent that can obtain the highest quality insurance at the most affordable costs should provide health insurance for the child.

Uninsured Medical Expenses

Child support may be for medical expenses not covered in the health insurance plan. Uninsured medical expenses are any out-of-pocket medical costs beyond the basic medical cover, including co-pays, surgery costs, and deductibles. Funds for child support may cover expenses like eyeglasses, dental braces, and pre-existing special medical needs.

Tuition

Education isn’t entirely free, even in public schools. The cost of education includes several fees and costs to support a child’s learning process. Child support may, therefore, go toward paying for the child’s education-related needs like the following:

  • School clothes or uniform
  • Tuition fees
  • Lunch money
  • Private tutors
  • Field trip fees
  • Summer camp
  • Instrument costs

Child Care

One or both parents may be unable to care for the child for various issues, including work-related ones. In that case, child support may be used to cover childcare expenses, such as babysitters, daycare services, and related childcare costs and fees.

Can There Be Deviation from the Child Support Guidelines?

The court may determine that it’s in the child’s best interest to deviate from the child support guidelines. The law allows courts to consider anything relevant to deviate from the guidelines, including several statutory factors.

For example, the following factors can influence a court’s decision to deviate from the guidelines:

  • The ability of the parents to make child support contributions
  • The child’s age and needs
  • The amount of time spent with the child and access
  • Healthcare expenses
  • Special education needs
  • Availability of financial resources to support the child
  • Other costs related to caring for the child

If you believe any of these factors apply to your case and are a reason to deviate from the child support guidelines, consult a Houston child support attorney. They can evaluate the case and help you file a petition for the changes.

Can One Parent Object to How the Other is Using Child Support?

Generally, non-custodial parents may be unable to determine how the other parent uses child support funds. That’s because the custodial parent doesn’t have to record how they spend the money. So, it can be challenging to prove child support misuse unless the child’s health, safety, and welfare are obviously neglected.

Courts and child support agencies may not resolve disagreements on the custodial parent’s spending habits. However, you may still want to exercise your right to ensure your child receives proper care. If that’s your situation, consult a child support attorney in Houston to understand your legal options.

Can a Child Support Order Be Changed?

Once a child support order is in place, you may request a change if you can substantially show that the receiving parent has been misusing the funds. The court may thoroughly investigate both parents’ financial situations and how they pay for the child’s needs.

With the help of a Houston divorce attorney, you can reach out to a child support agency to get help in figuring out the best options. A modification may be necessary based on the legal requirements for an original child support order.

A Professional Legal Aid Protecting Your Child’s Best Interest

Child support obligations should prioritize the best interest of the child. A child has the right to receive support and care from both parents. If you feel your child support payments are not going towards their intended purpose, you have the right to follow up. A skilled child support attorney can help you.

At our Houston family law firm, we have experienced and dedicated attorneys who want to help you protect your child’s rights. We know how hard you work to provide for your child, and we want to help you create a cooperative approach between you and your child’s other parent to benefit everyone involved. Schedule a FREE case evaluation with us today.

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