Understanding the Basics of Child Support

Perhaps the most complex issues to settle during a divorce involve the care of the children. When parents cannot reach a balanced plan for custody, the court may grant physical custody to one parent and require child support payments from the other.

You obviously understand your obligation to provide financial support for the needs of your children, and when your family was together living under one roof, you may not have given a thought to how much you spent on your children. However, if you understand the formula set by the state of Tennessee to calculate the amount you will pay each month, you may have begun to wonder where the money will go.

Where do my child support payments go?

Despite common thought, child support payments do not cover just the basic necessities of a child. The payments you make supply more than food, clothing and shelter for your kids. While your ex-spouse contributes to their well-being on a daily basis, your support allows the children to continue enjoying the standard of living they would have had without the divorce, at least as much as that is possible.

Some of the expenses for which the custodial parent of your children may use child support payments include the following:

  • A portion of any medical expenses not covered by your health insurance, including deductibles, copays, eyeglasses or braces
  • Educational expenses that may include fees, clothing or uniforms, books and supplies, tutors, or lunch money
  • Daycare, child care during summer and holidays, nanny fees or other related expenses
  • After school activities like camp, sports, music lessons or clubs
  • The cost of safe travel, including the maintenance, fees and repairs of the custodial parent’s vehicle and any expense required if the children must travel to visit you
  • Recreational expenses, including access to the internet, television and other amusements and age-appropriate entertainment

Depending on the outcome of your divorce negotiations, you may be responsible for paying all or part of the college expenses of your children even if your children are in college beyond the age when child support would normally stop.

While you may feel overwhelmed at how much is expected of you, it is also important to know that the court takes many things into consideration when determining child support amounts. A judge will examine your income and other financial obligations to decide how much you can afford. Additionally, as time passes, if you find that you are unable to meet your child support obligations because of a job loss or other financial setback, you can speak with an attorney about requesting a modification of your court order.

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