Child support payments don't have to be mystifying

When a legal issue arises in your family, the best way you can protect yourself and the ones you love is by consulting a family law attorney who understands how to help you.

Child support payments are often a confusing aspect of child custody situations. These payments are made from one parent to the other, but are meant to support the children. In actuality, the payments are made to the kids but they need an adult to manage their financial interests.

It is up to the recipient parent to determine how the support money is used. The paying parent usually won't have a say in how it is spent unless the child's needs are going unmet. Here are some important things to know about child support payments:

What expenses should child support pay?

Child support is meant to pay for things the child needs. These payments may appear to pay living expenses of the recipient parent, but the child benefits from many of these bills getting paid. Rent or mortgage payments provide the child with shelter. Electricity, water and gas payments furnish the child with utilities. Even car and insurance payments benefit the children of the recipient parent, as they are used for transportation. The money can also be used to pay for school expenses, expenses related to extracurricular activities or the kids' entertainment.

How is compliance verified?

It is up to the recipient parent to determine how child support money will be used. There usually isn't any oversight into this. The exception comes when the child's basic needs aren't being met. If you think this is the case with your child, you might decide to seek assistance from the family court. In the absence of your son or daughter not having life's necessities, there might not be much that can be done to verify where the support money is going.

What if more money is needed?

There are some cases in which child support doesn't cover some of the extraordinary expenses that a minor has for medical care, school or other purposes. Parents might need agreements about how these additional costs will be handled. Some parents set up a schedule of reimbursement based on a percentage of the expenses.

If there is a significant change in expenses for the child or in the income for one parent, a child support modification might be in order. The order can be updated to reflect the current situation, but barring consent of both parties, any changes must be ordered by the court.

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