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Child support

childcare expenses

Child support is generally intended to help with the costs of raising the child—including food, clothing, shelter, and education—but laws vary from state to state and are often unclear on the extent to which child support payments are intended to help the custodial parent pay for half of school supplies, health care, braces, glasses, dental care, uninsured medical care, transportation (car), daycare, sports camps, cheerleading camps, school trips, social activities, and extracurricular activities.

Most state laws (statutes) don’t identify the specific child-rearing costs to which the custodial parent is required to contribute payment from child support and other resources—and because these issues are frequently the source of parental conflict, parents should identify all expected future costs and agree to the process for sharing them.

Childcare expenses incurred by the custodial parent are generally not required to be paid by the noncustodial parent in addition to child support—unless the childcare is required for the custodial parent’s work, training, or school—in which case the noncustodial parent may be required to pay for 50% of the childcare, for example.

In Texas, child support is designed to cover a child's basic needs, which include food, clothing, shelter, and education. The Texas Family Code provides guidelines for calculating child support payments, which take into account the income of the noncustodial parent and the number of children being supported. While the law sets out the general framework for child support, it does not itemize specific child-rearing expenses such as school supplies, health care, braces, glasses, dental care, uninsured medical care, transportation, daycare, and extracurricular activities. These costs are often addressed during the child support order process or through additional agreements between the parents. Childcare expenses necessary for the custodial parent to work, train, or attend school can be factored into the child support order, and the noncustodial parent may be required to pay a portion of these costs, which could be up to 50%. Parents are encouraged to communicate and reach an agreement on how to handle the sharing of these additional expenses to avoid conflicts.

Texas Statutes & Rules

Federal Statutes & Rules

Title IV-D of the Social Security Act
This federal statute establishes the framework for states to enforce child support, including the establishment, enforcement, and collection of child support payments.

Title IV-D of the Social Security Act requires each state to establish a program to locate noncustodial parents, establish paternity, establish and enforce child support orders, and collect and distribute child support payments. While the Act itself does not specify what child support payments must cover, it mandates that states must have child support guidelines in place to determine the financial responsibilities of noncustodial parents. These guidelines may include considerations for various child-rearing expenses. The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) oversees the state programs to ensure compliance with federal requirements.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)
UIFSA has been adopted in some form by all states to address the issue of interstate child support enforcement.

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act provides a legal framework for enforcing child support orders across state lines. It establishes which state's orders are to be followed and how they can be modified. UIFSA also facilitates the collection of child support from a noncustodial parent who lives in a different state from the child. While UIFSA itself does not detail the specific expenses covered by child support, it ensures that a valid child support order is recognized and enforced in every state, providing a mechanism for custodial parents to seek support for various child-rearing costs as determined by the originating state's laws.

Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) - Title 15, Chapter 41, Subchapter II, Part B
This federal statute limits the amount that can be withheld from a noncustodial parent's earnings for child support and other debts.

The Consumer Credit Protection Act sets limits on the percentage of an individual's disposable earnings that can be garnished for child support and alimony payments. The limits range from 50% to 65% of the noncustodial parent's disposable earnings, depending on the circumstances, such as whether the noncustodial parent is supporting another spouse or child and whether they are more than 12 weeks in arrears. This statute indirectly affects the amount of money available for child support and, consequently, the funds available for various child-rearing expenses.

Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996
This act includes provisions that strengthen the enforcement of child support, including the creation of the New Hire Reporting Program.

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 includes provisions to enhance the enforcement of child support. It established the New Hire Reporting Program, which requires employers to report newly hired employees to a state directory for child support enforcement purposes. This helps states to locate noncustodial parents and enforce child support orders. The act also allows for improved interstate enforcement of child support and provides for the suspension of licenses (driver's, professional, business) for nonpayment of child support. While the act does not specify what child support should cover, it plays a significant role in ensuring that child support payments are made, which can then be used by the custodial parent for various child-related expenses.