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What is child support intended to pay for?

If you plan to receive primary physical custody of your children in your pending divorce, you will likely be able to receive child support payments, too. In some California divorce cases, parents will come to an out-of-court agreement on the amount of child support the non-custodial spouse will pay. In other cases, a family law court will make this determination.

Regardless of whether you can reach an out-of-court settlement, it's important to learn a little bit about child support, and what it's intended to pay for. This knowledge can help you protect your legal right to receive an appropriate amount of child support.

Expenses covered by child support

When a family law judge decides how much child support the non-custodial parent should pay, he or she will consider both parents' incomes, the needs of the children and the level of lifestyle maintained by the children before divorce. Ultimately, the judge will strive to ensure that the children maintain the same -- or close to the same -- standard of living that they enjoyed while the parents were together.

Keeping this in mind, here are the expenses that child support is supposed to help the custodial parent to pay:

-- Medical care: Childcare expenses, such as health insurance, will be a consideration when determining child support payment levels. Regardless of which parent pays for the child's health insurance, the non-custodial parent will be responsible, at least partly, for this expense as well as other medical needs of the child -- including dental and vision. If unexpected, additional medical expenses arise, the parents may have to split these costs.

-- Basic needs: Child support payments are intended to help pay for basic needs like food, housing and suitable clothing. Included in these expenses are snacks, beverages, utility bills and telephone bills.

-- Education costs: Whether the child is going to private or public school, child support money may be used for tuition costs, lunch money, textbooks, tutors, uniforms and other education expenses. If the child is old enough, this may also include the costs of a child attending university.

-- Childcare expenses: Modern parents are busy and a single parent is not always available to provide 24-hour care. Child support is, therefore, intended to pay for nannies, babysitters and other child care services.

-- Travel and transportation: If you're like most parents, you spend a lot of time taking your child to different activities. Child support money is intended to pay for these expenses.

-- Entertainment: All work and no play makes Jake a dull boy. Entertainment, video games, television, computers and other entertainment are a necessary part of childhood and child support money can be spent on these things.

-- Extracurricular activities: Parents can spend child support money on sports, summer camp and other extracurricular activities.

Want to know how much child support money you should receive?

Every family is different, and every child has different needs. As such, the amount of child support you can receive as a custodial parent will be unique to your situation. To gain more insight into how much child support you're ex-spouse should pay, you may want to discuss your situation in detail with a San Jose child support lawyer.

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