What does child support cover?


My husband of 18 years and I are trying to figure out child support for our 3 kids. We have used the calculator, but cannot find any guidelines on what that amount is supposed to cover. I expect it to cover all housing/clothing/activities while they’re with me (I’ll be primary custodian). Our divorce mediator stated that childcare and extracurriculars are typically paid for according to income, but I cannot find any legal support for that to show my husband to get him to agree to that in our separation agreement, and I don’t think he’ll agree to that without it. Was my divorce mediator mistaken or is her statement of what’s “typical” simply a convention rather than something specified in the law? Are there any guidelines that lay out what child support is supposed to cover?

Just as further background, I have been a stay-at-home mom and am transitioning back to the workforce because of the divorce, but currently have no income other than the support (I am getting the child support amount the calculator specified, plus some nominal alimony which will be reduced as I begin to generate my own income), and the support package I’m getting does not even begin to cover the monthly expenses of the family home/food/clothing, etc. I am borrowing from my family to make up the difference until I can get on my feet, but my husband keeps questioning why he should pay any more than the calculator says and that that amount should cover everything. Right now, my kids’ extracurriculars include piano lessons for the older two, karate for my middle son, and yearround swimming for my older daughter. I cannot swing any of those on the support I’m currently getting.


Child support is intended to cover your spouse’s share of the children’s reasonable needs while they are in your care. The calculator is meant to allocate the children’s reasonable needs based on both of your combined incomes. Often times extracurricular activities are paid by the parties based on the parties’ pro-rata share of income, though the guidelines do not specifically mention extracurricular activities and therefore it can be inferred that the guidelines presume support goes towards covering these costs as well.

If you are having difficulty meeting your needs you may be entitled to alimony.


I had a question along those lines. I too have children in extracurricular activities (all started years before the divorce) so have not added anything out of vengeance. These are activities the children enjoy. Our child support award goes strictly by the guidelines.

I am awaiting a permanent alimony trial. I know that in regards to CS only the income is looked at. So does that mean with alimony the expenses are looked at? I,too, am dipping into savings. I am making the same money I have made for many years. In an alimony trial will the opposing side try to say I can work more hours so that I can meet my expenses. I do work parttime, but I have done this throughout the marriage and it gives me time with my children who are preteens (and do not drive). Also, with the added work of taking care of the home it would be extremely difficult to work more outside the home.


  1. in an alimony trial will the judge look at the expenses I have for the children’s activities and at least make him contribute, if my current income cannot pay for things.

  2. We also have a college child. Can our side present the fact that we applied for financial aid and that the child is working and has some scholarships but still there are monthly college expenses I incur and also pay his medical insurance? Throughout the marriage we never had a college fund, although we had the money, as we felt financially we would have no trouble paying for college.

3 Likewise they will look at his expenses. Since he is remarried does the fact that he have someone else to share in the living expenses, when I do not, have any bearing?

  1. If I am making the same money and working the same number of hours I did for the past 10 years, can they say I could work more and therefore make more money and be given less alimony.


Alimony is determined in part by taking a look at the reasonable expenses of the parties. Expenses for the children can be considered reasonable insofar as they are not covered by the child support and are not excessive.

Your oldest child’s expenses can also be considered as it is an expense you incur and increases your monthly shortfall.

On the flip side, his ability to pay can be increased by taking a look at his actual living expenses.

The court will consider the fact that you have become accustomed to working part time, however you may still be encouraged to pick up more hours to lessen your shortfall.