22 Sep Child Support in Texas – What does it Cover?
Raising kids is expensive.
School, sports and extracurricular activities, tutoring, medical insurance, braces, cell phones, computers, clothes, shoes…. The list goes on and on. It is hard enough in a two-parent household. It gets harder when parents divorce.
Child support is money paid by one parent to the other to help cover the child’s basic needs. Usually, the non-custodial parent pays the parent that the child lives with. There are “guidelines” in the state of Texas that help determine how much a parent pays (see our previous article about Child Support in Texas). Many parents find that the guideline amount is not enough to cover all the expenses associated with raising a child. Sometimes divorcing couples just agree to guideline child support, but they can come to an agreement on an amount that is different. Parents should think about all the expenses involved in raising their children when negotiating child support.
Texas law does not specify exactly what child support pays for. Some of the expenses that child support covers are:
· Basic necessities – food, clothing, shelter
Kids have to eat, wear clothes and have a place to live. Child support can buy groceries, snacks, drinks and other food items. It may buy clothing and shoes, including school and/or sports uniforms. Child support may also pay for the costs of housing related to the child, such as mortgage payments or rent, and utility bills.
· Medical Care
Children need basic medical care. Texas requires divorced parents to carry some form of health insurance for their child. Normally, the parent with the best employee benefits carries medical, dental and/or vision insurance. Parents can agree on whatever they believe is in the best interest of their child.
· Out-of-pocket medical expenses
Child support may pay for uninsured or out-of-pocket medical expenses, such as co-pays and deductibles.
· Educational and Other School Expenses
School is not free, even public school. Child support can buy books, school lunches, or pay for private tutors if necessary. School photos, yearbooks, and musical instruments or sports equipment can also be purchased using child support funds.
Child support can pay for daycare, babysitters or a nanny if one or both parents work.
Children need to go places and travel safely. Child support may be used to maintain a vehicle, including fuel, car payments, registration, inspections and insurance. Child support can also pay for the child to ride the bus or use other forms of public transportation. It can pay for travel costs such as flights, especially if the child is traveling to visit their other parent.
· Extracurricular Activities
Child support can pay for a child’s extracurricular activities that fall outside of school hours. Examples are sports, summer camp, after-school programs, clubs (such as Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts) and other non-school related activities.
The court does not require a parent to prove the child support they receive goes toward specific expenses, except in the case where a child’s basic needs are not met. The court assumes that the parent the child lives with pays for what is needed. The court does not track the parent’s spending habits.
If you have questions about child support, call us at 210-368-9708 for a confidential consultation.
We help both mothers and fathers establish, modify and enforce child support orders.