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How child support may be used in Pennsylvania

A commonly held misconception is that child support should be used by a Pennsylvania custodial parent only to provide for a child's basic needs. Child support may instead be used to pay for a wide variety of needs to help ensure that the child is able to grow up in the best possible environment, ensuring that he or she is enjoying a standard of living that would have been enjoyed if the parents had remained together.

Child support may be used to pay for educational expenses, food, shelter and clothing expenses, transportation costs, extracurricular activities and entertainment, child care, medical care and extraordinary expenses and, in some cases, college costs. Shelter expenses can include the cost of additional rent needed to pay for an apartment large enough to accommodate the child and utilities. Transportation costs, including gas, maintenance and upkeep, are allowed as a child needs safe transportation.

Even if a child attends public school, there may be uniform costs, various fees and other expenses related to the school attendance. For example, if a child participates in sports or other extracurricular activities, there are often participation fees and uniform costs. Medical and child care costs are often covered by child support payments, as are any extraordinary expenses not covered by medical insurance. In some cases, courts may order a noncustodial parent to continue paying child support beyond the age of majority to help defray the cost of the child's college attendance.

Raising a child involves many expenses running far beyond the provision of clothing, food and shelter. In order to help custodial parents pay for a child's needs, child support guidelines are set in a manner to help cover the associated expenses, including those that go beyond the child's most basic needs. Those who find themselves in a child support dispute may benefit by consulting with a family law attorney.

Source: Findlaw, "What Does Child Support Cover?", December 31, 2014

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