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Child support covers basics plus a lot more

When parents in Missouri cannot agree to an amount of child support payments, the courts will appoint an amount based on state guidelines. These child support guidelines factor in how much money the non-custodial parent can afford to contribute as well as how many children are involved, but the final amount should ideally cover the child's basic needs. Some parents might be surprised to learn that basic necessities are not all child support is meant to cover.

The cost of food, clothing, shelter and shelter-related costs, like utilities, are considered when awarding child support, but the goal is not only to keep a child alive. Typically, child support is supposed to enable the custodial parent to continue giving the child the same standard of living to which he or she is accustomed. This means that not only would educational expenses, such as school tuition, uniforms and supplies, be covered but also extracurricular activities and entertainment.

Within the amount determined for child support might be enough to cover costs of trips to go camping or to amusement parks. Parents should have what they need to pay for their children's health care, which could include extra expenses like braces. If childcare is needed, that will likely be taken into account by judges awarding child support. Money for sports or non-school related activities could be included. In some cases, courts might also require non-custodial parents to pay their share of the child's college tuition.

Parents concerned about receiving enough child support might benefit from talking to an attorney. Judges have some discretion when ordering specific monetary amounts, so any special circumstances should be clearly presented in family court. An attorney may be able to assist with basic representation as well as a custodial parent's needs, such as seeking a modification to child support when circumstances change.

Source: Findlaw, "What Does Child Support Cover?", December 24, 2014

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