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What Expenses Are Not Part of a Child Support Order, and Who Pays for Them?

Document with the name child support agreement.

When a child’s parents live apart from each other, either because they are divorced, separated or never were together, both remain responsible for supporting the child. In Michigan, each parent’s share of the support obligation is determined by their relative incomes and by the child custody arrangement. The amount of support is calculated according to state guidelines, taking into account the child’s basic needs. However, not all the potential costs of raising a child are included.

Child Support ordered to be paid by a non-custodial parent is meant to provide for necessary expenses, such as food, clothing and housing, medical and dental care, education and child care. But the basic child support obligation does not cover additional costs such as those for:

  • extracurricular activities
  • summer camps and training camps
  • private tutoring
  • school uniforms, instruments or athletic equipment
  • entertainment and social events

Any spending on the child that is not part of the child support order will usually be paid out of the custodial parent’s pocket, but the parents’ lawyers can negotiate an agreement that specifies which parent is responsible for certain expenses.

There are sometimes gray areas on whether expenses are necessary and therefore a proper use of child support. For instance, if a child previously attended a public school and the custodial parent switches the child to a private school, the resulting tuition might be an expense outside the coverage of the support order unless it is shown to be justified by the circumstances.

Generally, it is not feasible for the non-custodial parent to dispute how the custodial parent uses the money paid for child support. A custodial parent is not required to keep child support payments in a separate account, but there are ways to determine how much is being spent on the child and whether those expenses are necessary for the child’s welfare. Challenges to expenses typically arise when there is a request for modification of the support order, which requires showing a change in circumstances. You will need a child support attorney to represent you, whether you want to make a case for covering additional expenditures, to challenge such expenses or to negotiate an agreement.

Dawson Family Law, PLLC in Sterling Heights provides comprehensive legal counsel in child support matters for parents throughout Michigan. Please call 833-671-4445 or contact me online for an initial free consultation.

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