Are There Limitations to What You Can Use Child Support For?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Sunday December 11, 2020.

If you are receiving child support, it’s important that you understand the rules that govern how you can and cannot use this money. Child support isn’t extra money you can use however you wish. There are rules that require you to use it to cover your child’s basic needs. There is a good amount of leeway in how these needs are defined, but if you misuse this money, the consequences can be severe.

What Can You Use Child Support For?

The category of “basic needs” is quite broad, but in general, child support can be broken down into a few different areas. Food, housing, and clothing are all obvious basic needs. This means you are allowed to use child support to pay your rent and your utility bills in addition to buying groceries and other necessities. Medical care is also allowed. Child support can be used to buy anything related to your child’s education, the cost of daycare or sitters, and the cost of transportation. This latter category includes car maintenance, gas, insurance, and even your car payments in addition to the cost of bus fair and other tickets. 

You may also use child support for extracurricular activities and even for entertainment. This includes after-school sports programs, summer camps, club, and other activities that enrich your child’s life. You can even use child support for entertainment, including television and video-on-demand services, movie tickets, internet fees, camping, trips to amusement parks, and more. These activities do need to be age-appropriate, however.

What You Cannot Use Child Support For

While the above list does cover many things, there are still a number of things that are considered misuse of funds. For example, anything you purchase for yourself or other family members that your child cannot or will not need. You can’t use your child support money to buy yourself clothing, jewelry, or electronics that you child won’t use. Paying for services that only affect you, such as haircuts or a gym membership, is also not allowed. If you take a trip without your child, you may not use child support money to pay for it. In short, anything that your child will use or that they need is fine, but anything they are not a part of is a misuse of child support money.

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