Many people believe that child support is and should be used to cover a child's basic needs. However, Arizona and other states have come up with support guidelines that take a variety of factors into consideration. Additionally, the courts assume that the custodial parent is already meeting the needs of the child and will typically not monitor that parent's spending habits.
In addition to paying for food and shelter, child support payments may be used to cover a child's basic medical expenses. If a parent is uninsured or has to cover a portion of treatment out of his or her own pocket, child support may help cover those costs. Support payments may also be used to cover the cost of daycare or to hire a babysitter if both parents work and are unable to care for the child during work hours.
Educational expenses such as tuition, money for clothes or money to pay a tutor may also be included in child support payments. In some cases, a noncustodial parent may be asked to pitch in to pay for field trips or to cover the cost of basic school supplies. If a child is attending college full-time, a noncustodial parent may also be asked in some states to pay for some or all of the child's higher educational expenses.
Parents who are seeking child support may wish to talk to a family law attorney prior to taking any legal action. An attorney may be able to help establish reasonable costs related to taking care of a child while adhering to state guidelines. Additionally, an attorney may be able to help a parent win a modification of an existing order if the needs of the child or the circumstances of the parent warrant such a change.
Source: Findlaw, "What Does Child Support Cover?", December 16, 2014