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What costs do child support cover?

Your Question:
Is there a law or ruling that states the non-custodial parent is responsible for all expenses on their possession weekends?. As the kids get older, the expenses go up such as Proms, Homecoming activities and such. Even though I pay a generous amount each month is Child Support, I constantly get the phone calls that say "IT'S YOUR WEEKEND, YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR IT". Any words of wisdom?

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My Answer:

Thanks for writing.

I think, generally speaking, you should be paying the expenses to care for your children while they're in your home.

So, you'll pay for them to eat, maybe if you buy them any clothes while they're with you, maybe if you take them to the movies, etc.

I don't think you're responsible to pay for any costs that their mother has unilaterally decided will occur during your time with them (e.g., a trip to Disney).

But with regard to costs that are special events not arranged by either parent, it can really go either way. So, what if there's a school event, and it falls on your weekend? Someone has to pay, and if there's a stalemate, it's going to be the parent who takes the kid to it.

As another perspective, when I was of working age (i.e., 16), my parents didn't pay for those things that I wanted to do. I had to get a part-time job to save up for my car, for electronics I wanted, to attend school events, etc.

If I was on the receiving end of child support, and I had a teenager, I'd probably allocate part of that child support as an allowance to the teen (e.g., $20/week) for spending cash. Doesn't sound like your ex would be open to that.

I think you just have to pick your battles. If you're strapped for cash, and if the event isn't a huge one, then you have the opportunity to teach your kids a lesson-- money don't grow on trees, and you simply can't afford to pay $200 to let them go to Casino Night at the school.

Or you can teach the kids responsibility and a sense of earning a reward, "Well, I could probably find some money, but I'll have to forego my car wash and the maid service this month. So if you kids can wash my car and clean the house prior to the event, I think that'd be a great team effort to get done what has to be done at home but also make sure you get to have fun at Casino Night... I know that's important to you."

And, if they don't want to help you out, then you don't have to help them out. It's then THEIR choice.

If the extra costs get outrageous, you can go back to court to have the judge clarify who must pay what.

Good luck.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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