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Many people mistakenly believe that child support is meant to only pay for the bare necessities of a child, including shelter, clothing and food. However, Pennsylvania parents need to understand that child support is intended to pay for more than just those expenses.

The needs of a child extend beyond the basic shelter, clothing and food necessities, although child support can of course be used for these purposes. Pennsylvania law requires one or both of the parents to have medical support for the child if it is available for a reasonable cost. The custodial parent, however, might not need to provide this necessity if the noncustodial parent is already paying for it. The court takes the financial capacity of both parents into consideration when it orders one or both to purchase health insurance. When a child needs care that is not covered under the policy, the court may require one parent to pay for the uncovered expenses or both parents to share the cost.

The parent receiving child support payments may also use the funds for child care, including babysitters and day care fees. Educational expenses, such as school supplies, lunch money and tutoring, are also part of the extended needs of a child and can be paid for using child support. The noncustodial parent of a child who is involved in extracurricular activities, such as a sports team or club, might help support the child’s continued participation in these activities.

These may not be all of the uses of child support that a paying parent helps to provide. The amount of the payments depends on several factors that the court takes into account, including the payor’s income and ability to provide support. Custodial parents who are going through the process could get help from lawyers in compiling financial documents and proof of the needs of the child for the court to review.

Source: FindLaw, “What Does Child Support Cover?”, accessed on Jan. 13, 2015