Many parents in Texas may be surprised to learn what child support does and does not cover. Whether you are expecting to receive or pay child support, it is important to plan ahead financially. Although individual cases vary, here is a look at several expenses that may or may not fall under the scope of court-ordered support.
1. Child care - no
The paying parent is usually off the hook for nannies, baby sitters, day care and after-school care, which can be significant expenses.
2. Health insurance - yes
Ordinary health insurance is covered under child support. Dental care will also become mandatory as parents in Texas have until September 2018 to arrange this type of insurance. After that time, if a child has no dental insurance, the parent is responsible for paying the child's dental bills. Dental coverage includes routine preventative care, emergency care, X-rays and the like. Vision insurance is not required under the typical child support umbrella.
3. Optional activities - no
In this case, the word "optional" means such elective activities as tutoring, fees for sports teams, private music lessons, camps and even school photographs. Items such as a car and car insurance also fall under this umbrella. College tuition and money for the child's wedding also count as optional.
4. Basic needs - yes
Clothing, food and housing are basic needs, and parents receiving child support payments are allowed to use that money for expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, grocery bills and clothes shopping.
5. Parent's personal expenses - no
Parents should not spend any portion of their child support payments on their personal expenses. For instance, haircuts, dinner out with a friend and a cell phone are not proper uses of child support under the law. Justifications such as, "I need a cell phone to talk with the child," or, "I need a day at the spa because caring for the baby is so stressful," may not fly with the courts.
Child support can be a complicated issue. For example, the default law in Texas says if your child is 18 and still in high school , child support payments continue until the child graduates. That said, many individual arrangements require child support until the child completes college. An attorney can help clarify questions about what the child support you are paying or receiving should cover. If you are seeking child support or changes to your existing plan, an attorney can also help.