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What child support covers in New Jersey

Child support may be ordered by a New Jersey court in amounts designed to cover a number of things beyond the basic needs of a child. Many parents have mistaken beliefs that child support is in place simply to provide for such things as food and clothing for the child, but child support can be used for far more things.

The basic needs of a child will be covered by a child support order. In addition to food and clothing, this will include shelter costs as well. Child support may cover a portion of the cost of rent, utilities and other associated shelter costs. Similarly, child support may also cover transportation needs, including gas, maintenance and upkeep of a vehicle and bus passes.

Educational, extracurricular and entertainment costs may also be included. These categories can include money for uniforms, school fees or tuition, books, after-school activities, summer camp and sports participation. A noncustodial parent may also expect to pay for the medical care of the child as well as any medical expenses that are not covered by insurance. Child care costs are often ordered in order to allow the custodial parent the time to work or attend school each day. Finally, in some cases, courts may order the noncustodial parent to contribute towards payment of the child's college expenses as well.

Raising a child is expensive and often involves numerous hidden costs that may not be readily recognizable by a noncustodial parent. It is fairly common to hear a court-ordered parent complaining about their perception of how the other parent spends the child support payments, but the payments may be used as the custodial parent sees fit in order to provide the child a decent living environment. Refusing to pay child support is not a valid option.

Source: Findlaw, "What Does Child Support Cover?", December 29, 2014

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