Anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of first marriages in the United States end in divorce. That percentage only increases for subsequent marriages. Nearly every divorced couple that have children together also have a child support arrangement.

The only way to avoid an arrangement is if both parents earn the same amount of money, and the children split their time equally between the two parents as well. Obviously, this arrangement is nearly impossible. Read on to learn what parents are and aren’t allowed to use child support money for.

Child Support 101

Child support is money that is paid from one parent of the child(ren) in question to the other parent. Oftentimes, there is one adult that has a higher income, and they pay the lower income parent. However, the parents may earn an equal or nearly equal amount. In this case, the court takes into account how much time the children spend with each parent. The custodial parent often pays for items out of pocket, so the ex-spouse pays child support as reimbursement.

Ultimately, that is what the money is for – a form of reimbursement. There is a fairly common misconception that child support money goes directly to children. Oftentimes, the money is essentially a reimbursement to cover the cost of raising a child. The money is not a tax write-off.

Child support in Florida is established by the courts. A majority of the time, the legal system uses a chart in the state statutes to determine how much child support should be. There are exceptions that can be made. If both spouses make a certain amount of money over or under the parameters set in the statute, the judge will determine the amount. Additional factors may be taken into consideration as well. If a child is disabled, or requires certain accommodations to function, the parent paying child support may need to contribute more.

What It Pays For

Child support is intended to be used to pay for necessary and reasonable expenses. For example, it is perfectly reasonable if a parent with two children moves into a four-bedroom house. However, there is no way to justify a six-bedroom home for that household.

The money is not paid in budgeted amounts. It is paid in one lump sum to the custodial parent. How that money is divided to serve the needs of the children is up to the discretion of the receiver.

  1. Shelter

Whether the custodial parent is renting or buying a house, monthly support is a big help. Money can go towards rent or mortgage of the home providing a roof over the heads of the child(ren).

  1. Food

Food costs will vary depending on the children’s activity level. Two teenage boys will need more food than a baby.

  1. Health Costs

Oftentimes, court arrangements take the cost of health insurance into account. If there are unexpected medical expenses, the court may rule for the non-custodial parent to contribute extra money.