Child support, while the definitions may be different from one state to the next, is designed for one purpose: to support any children that are not residing with one or both parents. It’s common in divorces and in relationships where there was no marriage, but that both partners agree to part ways. While it’s traditionally been the mother who maintains custody of the children, in recent years, it is more possible than ever for the father to maintain custody. Either way, child support is an important element of the noncustodial parent and child relationship.
Many clients ask what child support is used for. When both parents can step aside and see things from a slightly different perspective, most can come to an agreement that a.) no one wants to prevent their children from having their needs and many of their wants supplied and b.) the custodial parent may not spend the child support in a way the noncustodial parent would, but that the money is indeed spent on the child. For some, they want to know how.
Around the country and in the state of New York, child support is used for:
- Paying the mortgage or rent
- Covering the costs of utilities
- After school activities such as dance, softball, football, etc.
- School trips
And frankly, the small joys that kids love to have “just because” can really make a big difference for a kid who’s had a really bad day. A custodial parent who has a few dollars because he or she can rely on child support each month can make that happiness count, whether it’s a simple snow cone or a trip to the museum.
It’s understandable that some parents take issue with “their” money being used to pay for the utilities for an ex-husband or ex-wife. The reality is the utilities ensure their children have running water to brush their teeth each morning and each night. The utilities ensure the milk for their cereal is cold and that there is even cereal to enjoy. The money spent on food might also provide food for an ex, but most, after considering how petty such an argument sounds, agree that the custodial parent likely does far more than the noncustodial parent realizes.
For example, the custodial parent is the one who is at the supermarket on Tuesday night to ensure there’s bread for tomorrow’s lunch. The custodial parent is the one at the parent’s meeting where the price list for this year’s recital, ballet slippers and tutus are provided (or football helmets or baseball gloves, etc.). The custodial parent is also the one the school calls when there are concerns the child is running a fever or fell on the playground or even got into a fight before school. The custodial parent is the one who’s rushing to the school to take care of the child.
For these reasons, and so many more, when both parents can work together, both can usually gain a new respect for one another and what each does for the well-being of a child who loves and needs both of them. Our child support attorneys in Rochester can attest to running into a former client at graduation or in the supermarket and never once hearing, “I hate I was forced to pay child support!” But, they likely have a story or two that starts with, “They grow up so fast! I sure miss the days when my little girl was whacking that softball off the t-ball stand.” Child support does so much more than provide financial support.