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Does your child need extra financial support this fall?

Back-to-school season is starting and a lot of parents are still frantically trying to fill their school shopping lists.

If you're the non-custodial parent, you probably figure that's what your child support is for, right?

Well, not exactly. The support you pay is based on your child's ordinary living expenses. However, there's nothing ordinary about the expenses at this time of year.

You can expect each of your children to need a rather impressive list of supplies:

  • New shoes are probably needed, including more than one pair if your child has to take gym. Many school gyms require a separate pair of sneakers in order to protect costly gym floors.
  • At least five complete outfits are necessary. You aren't off the hook if your child wears uniforms either -- those can be just as costly (or more) than jeans and shirts.
  • Each child needs paper supplies, including folders, pens, pencils, notebooks, calendars, calculators, file folders and whatever else the school or teacher puts on the list. It may include things like tissues and sanitary wipes for young children.
  • Electronic supplies are also important these days -- if your child is in college, there's a good chance that he or she needs a new laptop (because they seldom stand up to the abuse a full year of being toted back and forth to class without some damage). If he or she is in high school or middle school, there's probably electronic lab fees that have to be covered.
  • Fees for art classes, band classes, choir or sports are also part of the deal. Many schools no longer provide the supplies for these activities for free.

It's estimated that the average parent will spend somewhere between $369 and $680 per child, depending on the area of the country that you're in. Divorced parents -- or those in the midst of a divorce -- should try to work together to split the extra burden of the back-to-school season. That can help prevent a trip back into court to reassess the child support order in place.

Voluntarily contributing a little extra financial support at this time can also go a long way toward showing a judge that you're a devoted and committed parent with your child's best interests in mind -- which can help if you're fighting for more custody. An attorney can provide more information or advice on child support.

Source: Real Simple, "Back-to-School Supplies Checklist," accessed Aug. 11, 2017

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