Guide to What Child Support Can Be Used for in Florida

Child support has an important role after a divorce. Its purpose is to provide financial assistance to children to ensure their well-being when their parents are no longer together. If you are going through a divorce and have children, you may be asking yourself, “What does child support cover in Florida?”

There are certain expenses that child support covers, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Under Florida Statutes, other non-essential expenses are not intended to be covered by child support payments.

Understanding Child Support in Florida

One person handing another person child support money

When couples who have children separate, there are many life changes. Parents no longer live together, often causing a big difference in financial resources, which can jeopardize the children’s well-being, leaving them without enough food to grow and thrive, clothing to keep them warm and dry, and even a stable place to sleep, depending on the situation.

Family courts in Florida understand this and have laws and processes to care for children while they grow into adulthood. The primary caretaker (custodial parent) receives court-mandated funds from the noncustodial parent to provide for the ongoing needs of the children after a divorce or separation.

The factors that will determine the amount of child support include:

  • The child’s (or children’s) needs.
  • The financial status of both parents, including income, assets, etc.
  • The standard of living before the divorce.
  • The parenting agreement – how much time the child spends in the custodial parent’s home and the noncustodial parent’s home.

The Purpose of Child Support in Florida

What is child support used for in Florida? Child support is used for essentials and other needs to raise a child. There are common misconceptions about child support, where people think the custodial parent can spend the money on whatever they want. People can get confused and think that child support funds will be used on extravagances for the custodial parent as though it is a windfall after a divorce, which is untrue. Child support is mandated by the court to benefit the child directly.

The purpose of child support is to provide financial assistance for the child’s basic needs.

What Expenses Does Child Support Cover?

Children have varying needs as they grow up to help them thrive. The funds provided through child support payments cover basic needs and are key for their education and medical care.

What expenses does child support cover? The following sections will describe the expenses and how they contribute to the child’s overall well-being.

Essential Living Expenses

The essentials are basic living expenses: food, clothing, and housing. All children need regular meals, clothes that fit them and are seasonally appropriate year-round, and housing to keep them safe to thrive.

Medical and Healthcare Expenses

Medical and healthcare expenses, such as doctor and dentist appointments and necessary medicines, are vital needs that child support covers. Every parent also knows that health insurance is essential for children because kids fall down, get sick, and are susceptible to cavities – and it takes money to care for them.

Educational Expenses

All kids must attend school; child support is indispensable in covering educational costs. Expenses for education include tuition, school supplies such as books and bookbags, and extracurricular activities. These activities may include field trips or expenses related to school clubs.

What is Child Support Used for in Florida?

The essentials of food, clothing, shelter, and other basic necessities are the core expenses covered by child support. These essentials are crucial for the child’s development and well-being.

What Expenses Does Child Support Not Cover?

Child support in Florida serves a critical purpose – but there are limits. It typically does not cover certain expenses, such as luxury items, vacations, and other non-essential expenses. Non-essential expenses are products or services not needed for a child’s development and well-being.

Child support does not cover expenses that do not directly support the child’s needs, and these expenses should not be paid for with child support funds. If so, the parent who is responsible for doing so can face harsh consequences.

Non-Essential Extracurricular Activities

Child support may not cover non-essential extracurricular activities not part of the child’s core needs, which could be expenses related to sports activities, hobbies, after-school clubs, or other extracurriculars. These are not required under law but may be part of an agreement between the two parents.

Navigating the Gray Areas: When Additional Expenses Arise

It is not uncommon for additional expenses to arise. When this occurs, the court may address expenses outside the typical scope of child support, such as private school tuition, specialized medical treatments, or unique circumstances.

If parents have differing views on how the additional expense will be paid, trying to get a court order can take a lot of time and involve expensive fees to get through the process. It is best to contact a family law attorney to negotiate an agreement.

Ensuring Fairness and Compliance in Child Support

A parent can file for a modification in child support payment if there is a “substantial change in circumstances.” The factors considered by the court include a change in income, a change in parenting time, and a change in expenses.

The person who requested that the child support be modified needs to file a Supplemental Petition to Modify Child Support and then serve the petition to the other spouse. Financial information will then need to be disclosed to each party. It is advised to have an attorney for mediation purposes. Many jurisdictions do require mediation prior to going to court.

Non-compliance with child support orders is illegal and can result in severe consequences, such as wage garnishment, loss of a professional or driver’s license, or even jail time.

Supporting Children’s Needs in Florida

Understanding the answers to “What does child support cover in Florida?” is essential whether you are a parent receiving child support or the one who is paying for it. Knowing what is covered – and what is not – is key to fairness and compliance. The most important takeaway: child support plays a critical role in securing a child’s well-being.

Family law is complex and can be very stressful, and you should not have to navigate child support issues alone. Need legal representation? Consult an experienced child support attorney. Dean Tsourakis has years of experience representing child support, divorce, and other Family Law cases throughout Pinellas County, FL. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.