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What am I allowed to spend child support on?

Like many custodial parents in Pennsylvania, you rely on child support to help you raise your children. You might have heard conflicting but well-meaning advice from your friends and family members about how you are allowed to spend your child support. Your ex-spouse may criticize your spending and threaten to report you to family law court if he or she disagrees on where the money is going. Understandably, this could have you worried about the consequences of misspending child support or whether your spending will be monitored.

Fortunately, you can stop worrying. According to FindLaw, the courts intend child support to benefit your children, but you have a wide range of freedom in how you can spend the funds. The following examples show how you might spend your child support check:

  • Housing and utility expenses, including rent, mortgage, electrical, water and gas
  • Education-related fees and expenses, including tuition, books, extracurricular activities, school uniforms, musical instrument rental and internet
  • Clothing, shoes and necessities, such as toothpaste and hygienic products
  • Health care co-pays and medicine
  • Food and drinks
  • Movie tickets, restaurant meals, Christmas presents, a family vacation and other entertainment expenses

The courts understand that in addition to providing for your children’s basic needs, you also need to give them a happy, secure life. Your ex-spouse may not approve of you spending a portion of your child support on gifts or trips, but if you are meeting their other needs, there is nothing wrong with creating memories and having fun. You may also choose to put your child support funds into a savings account for an emergency or for their future college expenses.

You do not have to report your child support expenses to the court or to the paying parent. The only reason authorities might investigate your spending habits is if there is reasonable suspicion you are neglecting or abusing your children.