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How custodial parents may use child support payments

New York parents who are receiving or paying child support often have questions about how support payments can be used. Many people believe that child support can only be used to pay for a child's basic necessities, such as food, clothing and housing. However, support payments can be used to cover a wide variety of expenses.

New York authorities recognize the costs of children's non-basic needs in addition to basic necessities when calculating how much child support a custodial parent should receive from a non-custodial parent. Courts calculate child support payments based on a child's existing standard of living in addition to both parents' incomes and abilities to pay.

A custodial parent can use child support payments to pay for most expenses concerning the child's basic and non-basic needs. Courts assume that custodial parents receiving child support need not be monitored if a child's basic needs are being met, so parents do not need to provide documentation or other proof of how they spend support payments.

Parents living with their children typically have a variety of expenses related to their child's non-basic needs. Even public schools require parents to pay certain fees, and students may need to pay for supplies, lunch, uniforms and other items. Parents may also use support payments for car-related expenses or transportation costs since children need safe, reliable transportation. The costs of enrichment programs, extracurricular activities and age-appropriate entertainment can also come from support payments.

Courts consider all the costs of raising a child beyond a child's basic needs when ordering a non-custodial parent to pay child support. However, in many cases, parents must seek a modification to a child support order, particularly if parental income increases or decreases or if a child's needs change. Family law attorneys may be able to advise parents on the process of filing a child support modification petition.

Source: FindLaw, "What Does Child Support Cover?," Accessed on Jan. 15, 2015

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