At its core, child support is a legally mandated payment made by one parent to the other to assist in covering the costs associated with raising a child. However, separated parents often disagree about how child support payments should be spent. If you are paying child support, you may disagree with how your child’s other parent spends the money. A common question our Texas child support attorneys receive is, “What does child support cover in Texas?” Below, we discuss what child support can be used for in Texas.
What Expenses Does Texas Child Support Cover?
The Texas Family Code does not specify how the parent receiving child support should spend it. The understanding is that child support helps to cover the costs of raising a child and should be used to provide a child with minimum basic needs. Minimum basic needs generally include the following types of expenses:
However, the parent receiving child support has discretion about how to use child support payments. There is no system or requirement to monitor or track how a parent spends child support funds. Unless there is evidence that the child’s basic needs are not being met or of an apparent misappropriation of funds, courts generally will not intervene.
A few things child support payments are commonly used for include, but are not limited to:
1. Basic Needs: Food, Clothing, and Shelter
Minimum basic needs include food, clothing, hygiene, and housing. For example, food costs may include groceries, dining out, and even specialized dietary needs or preferences.
Clothing is not limited to just everyday wear. Child support may help cover school clothing, seasonal clothing, shoes, winter coats, and other apparel like swimsuits or sports gear. It may also cover attire for special occasions like prom.
Child support is not just for direct expenses like food and clothing. It also helps cover indirect costs, such as housing costs. Funds can be used to help pay rent or the mortgage, utility bills, home maintenance, property taxes, and home furnishings suited for the child.
It is important to understand that the child does not have to be the sole beneficiary of the funds. It is not a misuse of funds if other household members benefit too. For example, paying an electric bill ensures the child has lighting and heat, even though other household members benefit too.
No matter where a child goes to school, education-related expenses always exist. Examples of standard school expenses include but are not limited to:
- School supplies
- School bus transportation
- School pictures
Beyond regular school hours, your child may participate in school clubs, sports, or even academic competitions. These extracurricular activities can include participation fees, equipment, or travel expenses.
Additionally, if both parents agree or it is determined to be in the child’s best interest, child support might be used to cover tuition for private school or special education.
Child support can also be used to offset necessary childcare expenses. Parents can use it for costs associated with daycare, before and after school care, babysitters, and nannies.
4. Transportation and Travel
Transportation and travel covered by child support can encompass a wide range of expenses. For example, a parent can use child support payments to help pay for vehicle maintenance, gas, and auto insurance. They can also use it to cover the costs of public transportation.
Additionally, child support can help cover the expenses associated with more extensive travel arrangements. For example, suppose the parents live in different cities or states. In that case, child support can help cover the expenses associated with the child’s visitation travel, including plane tickets or other long-distance travel fares.
5. Extracurricular Activities
Participating in extracurricular activities is important for a child’s development. They provide opportunities for making friends, learning new skills, and personal growth. Child support can help pay for extracurricular activities like sports, arts, music, and other activities. Some costs to consider are fees for participating, lessons, equipment, uniforms, and travel expenses.
In Texas, parents can use child support for activities that help their child have fun. Recreational expenses may include experiences like movies, amusement parks, summer camps, and other outings that contribute to a child’s enjoyment and development. A parent may also put funds toward a child’s hobbies or interests.
What Does Child Support Not Cover in Texas?
Child support in Texas is designed to address a broad range of costs associated with raising a child, from basic living expenses to recreational activities. However, standard child support does not cover all costs and responsibilities. Most notably, medical support and dental support are separate obligations.
Typically, one parent, often the one paying child support, is required to provide health and dental insurance coverage for the child. This support is in addition to standard child support payments. However, every case is different. Determining who pays for medical and dental support can depend on multiple factors. An order or agreement should also address out-of-pocket medical or dental expenses, such as deductibles, co-pays, or treatments not covered by insurance.
Additionally, a parent should not use child support for anything that is not in the child’s best interest. A few obvious examples of misuse of funds include using the money for drugs, alcohol, or gambling.
Schedule a Consultation With Warren & Migliaccio Today
At Warren & Migliaccio, we help Texas families with all types of family law matters, including divorce, child support and custody. Do you have questions about Texas child support? Do you need help regarding a child support matter? If so, do not hesitate to contact our law firm.
During a consultation, we are happy to answer your legal questions and help you understand your rights and obligations under Texas law. We can also help you understand your potential legal options based on your unique situation and needs. Contact us today by filling out our online contact form, and we will be in touch with you soon to schedule a consultation.