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Can you use child support money to buy your kids gifts?

When you decided to file a petition in a Pennsylvania court because you no longer wished to stay married to your spouse, you may have worried about how your decision would affect your children. Like many parents who divorce, you may also have been greatly concerned about finances. Perhaps, you plan to request child support but aren’t really sure what the laws and regulations are that govern such matters.

All you need to do is scan news headlines to find a plethora of stories about celebrities fighting over money after divorce or police arresting people who have disregarded court orders to pay child support. To avoid such problems in your own life, it pays to do your research ahead of time, so that you are aware, for instance, of what types of expenses child support can cover and whether you can prove legitimate need in court.

Both parents provide for financial needs of children

You and your spouse are both responsible and obligated to provide for your children’s needs. While you may no longer wish to be married to each other, you will always share a common bond as parents. Child support does not mean that one parent bears the full financial responsibility after divorce, only that the court can order a parent to pay child support to even the scales, so to speak, so that both parents are providing support according to their means.

Food, shelter and clothing are priorities

Child support laws vary by state; however, in no state can you use court-ordered monies for personal expenditures. This would not, however, include things such as your mortgage, rent or even utility bills because, although you personally benefit from heat, electricity and a roof over your head, these things provide safety and care for your children. Therefore, child support money can help cover such expenses.

Holidays and other special occasions

The parent whom the court has ordered to provide financial supplement for his or her children will send regular payments at regular times through regular means. Providing financial support definitely includes provisions for extracurricular activities and events, such as fees for attending a sports camp, for instance, or birthday and Christmas gifts or toys.

Education, health care and more

If one or more of your children suffers ill health, medical bills can quickly pile up, even if you have insurance. Another purpose of child support is to help meet expenses having to do with medical care as well as education. School supplies, textbooks, private school tuition or field trip expenses are reasonable and legitimate expenses to which a custodial parent may choose to apply child support.

Ask before taking action

When the court issues a child support or custody order, both you and your ex are legally obligated to fully adhere to its terms. If you need to request a change, you must navigate the appropriate process. You can’t simply ask your ex to give you more money or stop letting him or her see the kids. If you are unsure about a particular issue, it’s always best to seek support from someone well-versed in Pennsylvania family law issues.