Just because you no longer wanted to be married to your spouse doesn’t mean that you are unwilling to provide for the financial needs of your children. As most Alaska parents do, you take your responsibilities seriously and want to keep your children’s best interests in mind as you navigate a divorce. Regarding child support, many parents have questions about how to use payments, meaning are there laws governing which expenses are covered or does the parent decide?
If you’re the recipient of child support checks that are coming in each month from your ex, state law allows you discretionary use of the funds within reason. Support payments are meant to provide financial supplement to cover general expenses for your children. The phrase “general expenses” typically refers to food, clothing, shelter and education. Child support guidelines do not include specific ways in which to use such payments.
What constitutes general expenses for child support?
As mentioned in the previous section, general expenses usually refer to food, clothing, shelter and education. These are broad categories in a sense, however. For example, does “education” include summer camp because attending camp can be an educational experience? “Shelter” refers to a child’s residence. So, to answer the question as to whether a parent may use child support to pay the mortgage, “Yes,” because if one does not make mortgage payments on time, a home may face foreclosure, which would leave the child in question without shelter.
Additional costs outside of general expenses
Perhaps your child wants to take dance lessons or play on an ice hockey team. While such activities can be educational, they are not typically part of a child’s “general education.” Therefore, expenses incurred from participating in these activities would be above and beyond the “general expenses” that child support covers.
That doesn’t necessarily mean your child can’t do the thing he or she wants to do. You and your ex can incorporate terms of agreement into your child custody plan that addresses which parent will fund which activities. You might agree to split the cost or to trade off with one of you paying for activities for several months and then the other. There’s no right or wrong way. It’s whatever you determine is best for your family.
When the need to modify a child support order arises
A child support order is both set in stone but not set in stone. You can say it’s set in stone because, once a judge decrees it, you and your ex must adhere to its terms, no matter what. You can also say it’s not set in stone because it is possible to modify (or change) a child support order with the court’s approval.
The key point to remember here is that, unless and until the court modifies its orders, both parents must continue to adhere to the existing terms of agreement.