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Child support

college 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, 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.

Because child support obligations generally end when the child turns 18, moves to attend college, dies, or gets married, college expenses are generally not child support obligations. But because college tuition and the associated living expenses are substantial, some parents attempt to address these costs in divorce or other legal proceedings. Depending on the age of the child at the time of divorce and the parents’ financial resources, the funding of a 529 plan (qualified tuition plan) for the child is one option for parents to consider.

In Texas, child support is primarily intended to cover a child's basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and education. The Texas Family Code does not provide an exhaustive list of specific expenses that child support must cover. However, it does consider health insurance and medical expenses as additional child support obligations. The custodial parent typically uses child support payments at their discretion to contribute to the child's overall expenses, which may include school supplies, healthcare, dental care, transportation, daycare, and extracurricular activities. Parents are encouraged to discuss and agree upon the handling of these additional expenses during the divorce process to prevent future conflicts. Child support in Texas generally terminates when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later, but not beyond the age of 19 unless the child is disabled. College expenses are not typically included in child support obligations in Texas, but parents can voluntarily arrange to contribute to a 529 plan or other college savings plan to prepare for such costs.

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