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Child support: Here's what it pays for

Child-Support-531266371_730x483.jpegLike many New Jersey parents who have gone through similar experiences, if you're preparing to divorce, you might be worried about your children and how your decision (or your spouse's, if it wasn't your idea) to end your marriage may affect their lives. It can be helpful to talk to close friends or family members who have already divorced, to ask them for advice regarding child-related issues, such as custody, visitation and child support.

They may be able to tell you what worked or didn't in their situations. Regarding child support, whether you'll be the custodial parent using payments to provide for your children's needs or the non-custodial parent making payments to help care for your kids, it helps to know more about the types of expenses support is meant to cover. It's also a good idea to learn more about the system and how it works, especially where you can seek support if a problem arises.  

Basic facts you should know  

Like most good parents in New Jersey, you want what's best for your kids. The problem in many divorce situations is that parents do not agree on the topic. The judge overseeing your case will make all child support decisions by using state guidelines at his or her discretion to issue a court order with your children's best interests in mind. The following list gives a general idea of the types of expenses child support typically covers

  • As the custodial parent, you would be sharing a primary residence with your children. Child support can help pay mortgage, utility bills or rent.
  • If you have several children, especially teenagers, you may find it quite challenging to fill the pantry when your household no longer includes two incomes. You can apply support payments toward your grocery bill.
  • You can also use the supplemental funds your ex provides for your kids to cover the cost of furniture, toys, books or any other staple item you need to provide a safe and healthy living environment for your children. 
  • If any of your children need eyeglasses or have medical expenses of any kind, support monies can help cover the cost. 
  • Even extracurricular activities, fees or supplies may constitute valid child-related expenses, such as field trips at school, sports equipment, dance lessons or camps your children attend during summer months.  

Your personal expenses are entirely separate from any child-based financial need when you divorce. In short, you can't use child support money for costs unrelated to your kids. Even if you don't use the full amount of a given support payment in a particular month, you still may not personally use the money for things that aren't associated with your children's needs. Misuse of child support money can lead to serious legal problems.  

Overcoming obstacles that may arise 

Once the court issues an order, you and your ex must adhere to the terms, even if you don't like them. If a situation arises where you believe you should receive a greater amount of support, such as learning that your ex has enjoyed a substantial increase of income or your children's needs prompt greater expenses, you can file a petition to request modification of the existing court order. If your co-parent isn't making payments on time or at all, you can immediately bring the matter to the court's attention.

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