When parents are unable to stay together to raise a child, it does not eliminate their responsibilities to their child. Generally, the parent with which the child does not live will pay child support.
The intention of child support is to provide for a child’s basic needs. It is a replacement for the money that would be in the family if the parents were together. The Oregon Judicial Branch explains child support should cover the regular needs of a child, but it may not always cover extra expenses.
The basic needs of a child are food, clothing, shelter and general care. These are the things a child must have to survive. A parent paying child support should expect to do so until the child is 18 and a legal adult. In some situations, support payments may extend past this age due to the needs of the child.
Child support is not for extra needs, such as entertainment, activities or college. These expenses are something the court considers elective. The expectation is that parents will communicate about these needs and decide together how to pay for them.
Health insurance is usually handled separately from child support. The court will order who provides this coverage. It often depends on the parents’ employment situations and who may be able to add the child to their health insurance or get the best deal on a plan.
Child support is not the complete financial care of a child. It is just the court-ordered portion. Parents should generally expect to provide other financial help to their children.