What does child support really cover?

Yes it would be part of child support. Child support is your portion of the amount of money it takes to raise that child per month. This includes, food, clothing, shelter and all necessary day to day expenses. Your ex is responsible for the rest of that dollar amount it takes to raise the child for the month.
Most parents, if they share custody, will agree on things like school supplies that are one time yearly expenses but are larger than the day to day.
Suggestion: If you share custody, equal time, and you want to, offer to pay 1/2 of the money back to her if she can give you a copy of the receipt. This is not required but a courtesy and it would look good that you have done more than required should it ever go back to court…
Any agreement you make, get in writing, notorized. Even if it’s something as small as this.

Child support is generally meant to cover the incidental expenses associated with the minor children, generally that means school expenses.

Helena M. Nevicosi
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.787.6361 main fax

Charlotte Office
301 McCullough Drive
Suite 510
Charlotte, NC 28262
Main Phone: (704)307.4600
Main Fax: (704) 9343.0044

Durham & Chapel Hill Office
1829 East Franklin Street
Building 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 321.0780


The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.

So, what do you know. Last week she hinted at it. Today she tells me she wrote checks this weekend for school supplies she cant cover. She wants me to rush to the bank and help her cover the checks. When I question this, her reponse is “You usually help with back to school…supply shopping, clothes, etc. Whas up? You don’t want to help your kids?” Ugh.

I would be inclined to let her get out of this situation herself. She is committing fraud by writing checks she cannot cover and hopefully she will learn her lesson when each bounced check costs her $. If you promised to give her money and didn’t, that’s another story. In the future I would suggest you make it very clear to her that your understanding of support is that it covers these types of expenses. If you decide you want to help out then I would take the children out on my own and by them certain things that they need - that way you know exactly how the money is being spent.

Tell her you have helped your kids. You paid child support. The first couple times is usually the most difficult. My suggestion is to let the ex know that you paid her and that the rest of your money is just that, your money. She will need to learn not to depend on you to cover her finacial responsibility to her children.

My husband’s ex did much the same thing the first year. He explained that child support is his portion of what it takes to care for the children and that did not mean that the money he gave her would cover everything, eventually she would have to use her own money to help “support” the boys. She would “whine” to him that she didn’t have the money for shoes and things they needed or worse, would tell the boys to ask their father because he had all the money…knowing full well that he’s not going to let the boys go without. This only happened once or twice, until he sat the boys down and told them exactly how much he pays and what that is supposed to be for. They do not lack for anything though. Their mother does what she will and we usually end up making up for it at our house. It’s never fair, but the boys know that we take care of them thoroughly…

we occasionally get the kids asking to be funded for expensive trips that they want to go on. We usually try and give them some spending money but we pay out a lot in CS. What we do now is tell the ex up front that we won’t be financing these little jaunts like ski trips etc and tell the children that we pay support to the mother and they should let her know if they need money for deposits etc. She usually gets it from wealthy relatives anyway.

Same here mal. The youngest want us to buy him a pair of $180 atheletic shoes, he’s 9 and he’s NOT atheletic. We told him no way…his mother gets them for him and then we find out that her mother paid for them. We have figured out that her mother pays for everything for the boys because she can use the receipts to write off on her business. We think that the boys have figured this out too…

Even if he was athletic…a$180 pair of shoes that he’ll outgrow or beat up so badly that they’ll need to be replaced in 3-6 months!!! Doesn’t even make sense and I’m sure the kids realize this but if Mom is willing to spend the $$$.
It is tough when parents have very different values in terms of money. In the situation of divorce there is very little you can do besides sticking to “your guns” about sensible spending. We hate it when Mom does an “end run” and goes to the relatives who always fork out the money. I am sure they get told that Dad and his new wife spend lots of money on themselves but never any on the kids. Which of course isn’t true. I’m sure they have no idea what she gets in CS, the clothes that we keep at our house, the trips we take them on, the meals we take them out to, etc. etc.

Tell me about it…I don’t even buy shoes that cost that much and would feel guilty if I did. mikeindurham - take note. This situations that mal and I are talking about are some of the petty things that can come up. I am sure that everyone on here can list one instance of this type of thing or something equally annoying.
My husband’s agreement states that twice a year, April and August, he will reimburse her 1/2 the value of clothing bought for the boys up to $250 for each child. This means for her to get $500 from him she has to spend $1000. This only happened once. She spent $500, and expected him to give her $500 so she could go buy more…after some intense debate, she ended up buying more clothes and then taking them back after he paid her. About 3 days later we found out that not only did she take them back, but her mother paid for them all to begin with. Since then they have agreed that regardless of what the agreement states, we each buy clothes for our respective houses, though it still ends up with us buying more…and half of what we buy ends up at her house and if it does come back it’s trashed. The good part about this is that the boys know that if they want something expensive and extravagant that will not last a month, they ask their mother. If they want nice and durable things that could potentially last years, they ask us.
If you make your stand early on situations like this will not continually come up in the future. Make it known what is expected. Like mal suggested, if your children need something when they are with you, you take them and buy it. It will make you feel better to know without a doubt where your money is going.

So now, I feel like a big heel. After all this crapp, I went to the therapist looking for some “guidance”. SHe says we are a mess and highly suggests co-parenting classes. When I called the ex to tell her about this, she had a fit. Im not too surprised, I guess. She just didnt understand how if I wasnt gonna pay for school supplies, how was I gonna pay for therapist.
Unfortunately for me, she thinks things are fine. Aside from me not paying, of course. She made lots of comments about my character, or lack of, mentioned that her husband should NOT have to pick up my slack, etc. Then she mentions she wont be talking to me again cause Im a huge a$$. Now while some of you may view this as a blessing, in the long run I dont think it is. When I asked about our custody schedule, which is pretty much ignored by the kids anyway, she says Im on my own. Its up to me to work it out with the kids. Ugh. The kids go dirtbike riding with their Stepdad most Saturdays. Chances are I wont be seeing them much. Im starting to think this shouldnt be in the legal forum anymore, but I am wondering at what point can kids make their own decisions about the custody arrangements? They are 14, 12 and 9. From what I hear, the 2 older ones can pretty much do what they want and the courts wont say much. The younger one goes where the older ones go and I might feel guilty for pulling him away from them. ~sigh~

Sounds like you need to work at trying to establish some time and activities with your children as the stepdad has done. The court and mediators are not going to think that a 12 year old and 9 yr old can make their own decisions about custody. If you have a custody schedule why aren’t you observing it?

If you have custody schedule set in place then it should be observed. BOTH parents are responsible for this for it to work. It is not up to you to work out with the children and it is not up to them. You are their father and if you are supposed to have them then you should. Don’t get into the petty arguement of money with the ex. If you are willing to pay for therapy for your children then it’s YOUR decision, it’s YOUR money. Get a recorder on your telephone and discuss the whole situation with the ex. Child support or money issues can not legally be tied to custody and visitation. If you pay child support great, if you want to help with extras, wonderful. But just because you are more worried about your children’s wellbeing than if your ex is writing checks she can’t cover does NOT make you a bad person. Her husband is not picking up YOUR slack, he’s picking up hers. (If that comment was about the money) You should NOT feel guilty for spending the time with your children. Once you establish that they are with you every other weekend or when ever you are supposed to have them, then you can work out activities with them.
If the ex is refusing to speak with you then I suggest that you write a letter stating your intentions to follow the custody and child support schedule as ordered and on what day and time you will be picking up your children. If she is refusing to work with you on visiations then it may need to be clarified to her through legal means that it is her responsibility as the custodial parent to make sure the children are given the opportunity to get their visitations with you. Send the letter e-mail or certified but make sure that you keep a copy and file it away.
At this point, if there is a custody schedule and support amount set, it has nothing to do with your character. There should be very little contact between you and she except to notify times the children will be “exchanged” and any urgent major decisions such as school, or medical. Visitations and support have nothing to do with her, they are about the children.
Sorry, I don’t mean to get on the “soapbox”, I just hate to see any good parent be taken advantage of or made to feel guilty by the other.

How did the visitation get to the point of you sons thinking it’s okay to blow you off in favor of what their stepfather wants? I do believe it is up to you to bring up the conversation to the boys about visitation. She should support you by way of telling the boys they are to spent that time with you. You can bring it up to her in the way of it is reducing the “slack” her new husband has to carry. If her new husband and/or she entice the boys to stay with them, that is a different can of worms. As the boys get older they will voice their preference more and more. I have a 13 yo son, it is hard to compete with dirtbiking. I have gained common ground by doing things that I can like Duke games, DVRing and watching wrestling (I outgrew it 20 years ago), Watching MTV, playing guitar hero. I am involved in what he likes and that gives me a connection with him. You need to find the connection with your boys. It doesn’t always have to cost money. We try and have a “movie night” complete with microwave popcorn. Occasionally there is game night. With three (between my husband and I… all from previous marriage) ranging in age from 7 to 13, the youngest being the only girl, it is hard to hold attenetion of everyone, but we manage to keep everyone happy. It can be done, but you have to work at it. Don’t let her new husband replace you. There is nothing wrong with the boys developing a realtionship with the step, but not to the exclusion of their relationship with you.

My ex-wife sometimes asks for more money for expenses that I feel are part of Child Support. For example, she is now asking for money for back-to-school supplies. I know they are an expense, but is that not part of Child Support?