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Child support may be a confusing concept for noncustodial and custodial parents alike. All across California, including right here in Stockton, parents are receiving and sending money to and from their former partners for the support and maintenance of their shared children. Although many parents are responsible with regard to how child support payments can and should be used, some parents may intentionally or accidentally misuse the funds intended for their kids.

Child support is only for the children who are the subject of the payments. Child support may not be used for parental maintenance. These types of payments occur when partners split and one is awarded financial support from the other and is called spousal support, also known as alimony. Generally, child support may be used for a range of financial needs and expenditures, including everyday expenses and even vacations and other costs that may not be associated with the child’s basic needs.

The basic needs of a child include items that the child requires for survival. Food, shelter and medical care items fall into this category. A parent may be able to apply some of a child’s support payment to utility bills if the child resides at a residence where the bills are being covered.

Beyond basic needs, a child’s support payments may be applied to his medical bills, educational costs and babysitter or childcare expenses. Child support may also be used to take the child on trips, provide him with entertainment and involve him in activities outside of school, such as sports and music programs. Though child support can cover a broad range of expenditures, individuals with questions about their particular case should look to their support order to better understand their unique legal situations.

Child support is often ordered in cases of divorce or when a child’s parents no longer live together. It can be of great benefit to a child in terms of meeting his basic needs as well as allowing him to live a life similar to that of his peers. To learn more about child support guidelines in California, interested parties may consider working with family law attorneys who handle child support matters.

Source: FindLaw, “What Does Child Support Cover?” accessed on Dec. 29, 2014