California state law offers guidelines to judges tasked with awarding child support payments. Parents who have never been through the process might worry that they will only receive financial assistance for their child's basic needs, such as shelter, food and clothing. In actuality, child support often covers much more than those necessities as it aims to maintain a child's standard of living.
There are a wide range of expenses that could be covered by child support beyond the basic. Costs of school supplies, uniforms, textbooks and other fees for a public or private school should be covered. Children's health is also important. Some type of health insurance is often mandatory for children of parents who are no longer married. However, out-of-pocket medical expenses and health care costs not covered by insurance are typically the responsibility of both parents and could be added to child support.
Many courts recognize the needs of children to engage in non-school related activities and to enjoy basic entertainment. This might include participation in sports or going on fun outings like camping trips. Transportation expenses, such as car payments or money for public transport, could be covered by child support. Custodial parents might get assistance paying for childcare if both parents work. In some cases, noncustodial parents could be expected to contribute to the costs of a college education for their child.
Courts start with state guidelines to estimate a support payment amount, but they are allowed to consider additional factors when making a final determination. Custodial parents who are concerned that they might not get enough to cover their needs might benefit from speaking with an attorney who could help argue for a fair amount. If there are significant changes in circumstance, an attorney might also assist parents in seeking a modification to a child support order.
Source: Findlaw, "What Does Child Support Cover?", December 24, 2014