What Does Child Support Cover?

Child Support Payments What Does Child Support Cover?

What Does Child Support Cover: A Brief Guide

Generally, when a couple with a child gets divorced, one of them becomes the custodial parent who lives with the child, and the other becomes the non-custodial parent who contributes towards the child's upkeep by paying child support. Although the laws regarding child support vary greatly from state to state, there are certain things that child support does cover.

Whether you are a custodial parent who's trying to claim child support payments from the non-custodial parent or a non-custodial parent trying to decrease the amount you need to pay, you need to first understand what child support generally covers. However, it's hard for a layperson to make sense of the legal terms that child support laws are written.

This is where DoNotPay can step in and give you a general understanding of what child support does and does not cover. If you'd like to take further steps to collect the child support coming to you or decrease the amount of child support you have to pay, DoNotPay can help you with that too.

Who Has to Pay Child Support?

Child support is paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent. However, there might be some confusion as to what these terms mean and the situations in which they can be applied. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Custodial/non-custodial parents: Generally, the custodial parent tends to be the mother while the non-custodial parent is the father, but this does not have to be the case. After the divorce, if the court gives custody to the father, then he becomes the custodial parent and the mother becomes the non-custodial parent. In such cases, the mother will have to pay child support.
  • Married/unmarried couples: Keep in mind that being married is not a precondition for child support. As long as the child's parentage has been proven, the non-custodial parent will have to pay child support, the amount of which is based on several factors such as his/her income and the expenses involved in raising the child.
  • Co-parenting couples: There are also cases in which the parents agree to co-parent. In these cases, the child will spend half his/her time with the parent and half with the other. The child support that each parent has to pay in such cases will need to be worked out in court.

How Long Do You Have to Pay Child Support?

You need to keep paying child support until one of the following conditions is satisfied:

  1. Your child turns 18 (unless s/he is still in high school at 18 or has special needs).
  2. Your child gets emancipated which means that the court rules that s/he is fit to support himself/herself.
  3. Your child joins the military. However, check to make sure that this is applicable in your state because a few states don't allow child support to end even when the child joins the military.
  4. You terminate your parental rights. This can happen if you give the child up for adoption.

What Does Child Support Cover?

It can be a little confusing to figure out what exactly is covered by child support. Child support is there to meet the expenses of the child, but sometimes, the child and the custodial parent may have joint expenses e.g. living in the same house. So if you are unsure about the things covered by child support, here's what you need to keep in mind:

  • Basic necessities: The child's basic necessities—such as food, clothing and shelter—are covered by child support. The custodial parent can use child support to pay the rent/mortgage to make sure that the child has a decent home to live in. Child support can also be used to furnish the child's room. It can be used to buy the child food and clothes as these are basic necessities that everyone needs.
  • Toys and extracurriculars: These can also be covered by child support. Extracurriculars may include any lessons that the child is taking outside of school like piano/dance lessons. Child support can also cover sports-related expenses if the child is interested in sports. The cost of sending the child to summer camp can be covered by child support.
  • School expenses: Child support can be used towards school expenses such as tuition, books, uniforms etc.
  • Medical expenses: Any medical expenses such as doctor's or dentist's fees, eyeglasses, medication etc. can be covered by child support. One of the parents can also enroll the child under their health insurance plan.

In general, child support can be used to buy anything that will be of use to the child but should not be used for things that are only going to benefit the custodial parent. For example, the custodial parent can't use child support to pay for their own clothes or their entertainment.

How to Claim/Decrease Child Support Payments

The court decides how much the non-custodial parent has to pay in child support. In general, the court makes this decision after considering what type of standard of living the child had prior to the divorce and how much money each of the parents earns. In addition, the court also considers the needs of that particular child because each case is different.

Custodial parents often find that the non-custodial parent is not paying up on time which means that the entire responsibility of taking care of the child falls on the custodial parent. However, non-custodial parents might object to the amount they have to pay because they are currently earning less than they used to or have legitimate expenses such as medical fees.

Of course, it's best if the parents can be on amicable terms and come to some kind of understanding between themselves, but in the absence of this understanding, they are left with no choice but to take the other parent to court and pay hefty legal fees.

Claim/Decrease Child Support Payments Easily with DoNotPay

The process can be overwhelming, time-consuming, and confusing. Fortunately, with DoNotPay, the entire legal process is simplified without having to pay lawyer's fees. All you have to do is answer a few questions and DoNotPay will draft a demand letter for you.

If you want to file a demand letter for late child support payments but don't know where to start, DoNotPay has you covered in 3 easy steps:

  1. Search child support on DoNotPay and enter the details of the person who owes the payments.


  2. Tell us more about the payment schedule, including the amount and frequency of the payments, the last payment they made and number of missed payments, and how much they owe you in total.


  3. Confirm your contact information and select whether you want us to mail or email the letter on your behalf. Choose how you would like to receive the payment and verify your signature.


On the other hand, if your objective is to lower the child support payments you have to make, due to a legitimate reason, you can do that via DoNotPay as well.

Here’s how to lower child support debt using DoNotPay:

  1. Search child support on DoNotPay and select the state your child support agreement was established in.
  2. Answer a series of questions about your current financial situation and your past payments to help guide the application.
  3. Confirm your current contact information, and enter the location of the county court that established your child support agreement, so we can mail your request on your behalf.

If you would simply like to know more about this topic, especially with regard to your particular state, DoNotPay has a state-by-state guide that you can refer to.

Child Support Guidelines by State

The entire process for child support payments can be overwhelming as each state has different rules and regulations. Fortunately, DoNotPay has child support guides for each state. Check out yours below:

DelawareMinnesota Wyoming
South CarolinaKansasNorth Dakota
Rhode IslandNebraskaMississippi
New MexicoOhioArkansas
New HampshireNevadaArizona
AlabamaKentuckyWest Virginia
IdahoMassachusetts Georgia
Washington StateColoradoIndiana
CaliforniaNew YorkNew Jersey
FloridaNorth Carolina Wisconsin


In general, giving and receiving child support is a delicate topic, and most parents have very strong feelings about it. However, you no longer have to feel helpless when it comes to giving/receiving child support. DoNotPay can help you get the child support you need to look after your child or lower your child support payments so that they become affordable for you.

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