If you're going through a divorce and have at least one child with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you may find yourself paying or receiving child support payments in the future. Understanding how this works is important, as there are many details that will impact you.

To start, there are child support guidelines in place that determine how much one parent pays to the other. The court considers a variety of factors when making this decision, such as:

  • The person's income and ability to make monthly payments
  • The financial needs of the child or children
  • The amount of support required to help the child or children maintain a similar standard of living

Child support is designed to cover a variety of expenses, including but not limited to:

  • Basic necessities, such as food, clothing and shelter
  • Medical care
  • Childcare
  • Transportation
  • Educational costs
  • College expenses
  • Entertainment
  • Extracurricular activities

As a parent receiving child support, make sure the money firsts goes toward paying for basic necessities. For example, you can use the money to purchase clothes and food items for your children.

From there, you can consider what else is necessary to help your child maintain their standard of living. An example of this is paying for uninsured medical expenses, childcare when you're at work and entertainment.

Conversely, if you're the parent paying child support, it's important that you stay in touch with the other parent in regard to how the money is used. This doesn't mean you should be overly vigilant, but it makes sense to stay in touch to ensure that the money is going toward the right expenses. You don't want to find that your ex is using the money for himself or herself, as opposed to caring for your child.

There could come a point when you're no longer able to afford child support. If this happens, you should learn more about requesting a child support modification. Even if it's only temporary, it can help you through a difficult spot.

There could also come a time when you need to take legal action to ensure that your ex is spending the money as designed.

For more information on child support and related family law matters, browse our website and blog.

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