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Can child support payments be used to buy holiday gifts?

The holiday season is the season of gift-giving. With that in mind, many Americans may ask, can child support payments be used to purchase gifts and extra-curricular activities for children during the holidays? The answer is yes. In fact, child support payments may be used well beyond the traditionally thought of necessities of food, clothing and a place to live.

In most cases, states require that a parent provide health insurance for their child, typically though employee covered benefits. But, other medical expenses may exist, including out of pocket costs such as co-payments and deductibles, or other expenses such as dental care, eyeglasses and additional health care costs.

In considering the best interests of a child, a child's entertainment during their upbringing is also a cost that may be used from child support payments. This includes gifts, such as toys and video games, as well as other entertainment costs, such as trips to the movies or sporting events, school outings, sports and musical training and any other child activity.

Each state has specific child support guidelines to calculate how much a parent is expected to pay in child support. Child support guidelines vary from state to state. It can be a good idea for parents who have questions about child support to get more information and become familiar with family law expectations between a custodial parent and a non-custodial parent paying child support. This may help assure that all payments are being paid in full, and that the best interests of the child are met.

Source:, "What Does Child Support Cover?", Dec. 13, 2016

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