What Isn’t Included In Child Support Payments?

By Michael DiFalco

Parents have an obligation to continue financial support for their children regardless of the status of their relationship. In the case of divorce or separation, one parent may be legally required to pay child support to help provide for the child’s needs. 

Technically, child support funds belong to the child or children; these funds are given to the custodial parents to manage on their behalf. The law allows for flexibility in the way a custodial parent uses the money, but there are limits on how child support can be spent. 

What does child support cover?

In New York, the method for calculating child support is straightforward. The process begins by combining the income of both parents and subtracting all relevant deductions. 

The amount determined for child support is then based on a percentage of that combined amount. Each parent’s share of the child support is calculated with primary caregiver status in mind. Typically, the higher-earning parents are required to pay more based on these calculations. 

No matter what the numbers add up to, there are state-specific guidelines determining what needs are meant to be covered by child support. These needs are often referred to as “basic needs” and include:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Medical and dental care, including health insurance costs
  • Entertainment
  • Educational expenses
  • Childcare
  • Transportation
  • Extracurricular activities

Any other expenses that are deemed essential for a child’s academic and personal growth may be included. 

Expenses That Are Not Covered by Child Support

While the law provides some flexibility on what can be considered essential for a child’s well-being, there are some expenses that do not fall under that umbrella. Some examples of expenses not included in child support payments include:

  • Vehicles or car insurance
  • College tuition (discretionary or agreed to by parents)
  • Babysitting
  • Luxury items 
  • Private lessons
  • Memorabilia, such as school photos or yearbooks

If a custodial parent is arguing that child support payments should be increased to cover these types of payments, the law may not support those claims. 

Can one parent object to how the other is spending child support payments?

It is not easy to dispute how the funds are spent. Unless a child is obviously lacking in basic needs, it is difficult to challenge the way a custodial parent is using child support. The law does not typically require a parent to keep track of spending or to provide any accounting. 

In obvious cases, the non-custodial parent may have a case to prove misuse of funds. An example would be if the custodial parent went on an expensive vacation while the child lacked crucial healthcare.

New York laws do not require custodial parents to prove how child support payments are used. Proving whether specific items were paid with child support money or the custodial parents’ personal funds is challenging and would require an invasive process that courts are not likely to take on. 

Raising a child is expensive and can require any number of unexpected costs. Trying to monitor each and every dollar spent would cause more problems than it would solve. However, that doesn’t mean non-custodial parents don’t have options if they believe child support funds are being misspent. 

Taking Action to Protect Your Child’s Needs in New York

If you have concerns that your child’s needs are not being met despite child support payments, or if you believe you are being harassed by an ex over the way you spend child support, you may have legal options. To take action, it is vital to consult with a family law attorney experienced with New York child support law. 

The skilled family law team at Aiello & DiFalco LLP can provide you with the legal guidance and support you need to navigate your child support dispute in New York. Contact us to schedule a consultation with a seasoned Garden City family law attorney today.

About the Author
I am a partner at Aiello & DiFalco LLP, and my priority for my clients is to guide them through an arduous court case to provide them with the opportunity to write the next chapter in their life. I tailor my approach to each client’s priorities and positions, and to the extent that matters can be predicted, I will always provide a realistic perspective of how the law could be applied to the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Since I thrive on helping people and solving problems, I bring an optimistic and positive approach to practicing in a very difficult area of law. With more than a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, I have the ability to get results on the issues my clients view as priorities. When cases or certain issues cannot be settled, I have a solid record of success at trials, hearings, and on appeals. Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation, I am always available to help.