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What Exactly Is Child Support Supposed to Cover?

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You’ve let us know that many of you struggle with the outrageous choices your coparent makes. And we know (first hand) how difficult it is to manage your budget when child support is undependable—or nonexistent. The compromises many of you make to keep peace with your ex for the kids’ sake are nothing short of heroic. We applaud you!


So, when this single mom asked a coparenting question that left us shaking our heads, we knew that you would help. Here’s what she told us:


This mom and her ex are divorced, and he only sees their five-year-old daughter once a week—although he lives just several blocks from them. Sometimes, dad spends the whole day with her. Occasionally, their daughter just spends the night. Besides having a bed for her in his apartment, this dad has nothing for his daughter.


“When he sees her, I have to pack clothes, shoes, toys, books, bathing suit, personal DVD player and DVDs, water bottle … absolutely everything,” says this frustrated single mom by email.


When she talks to Dad about this situation, he tells her that he pays her child support to buy those things. So, if this single mom buys a new DVD, for example, Dad feels she’s buying it with his money.


“I know that many kids pack clothes for an overnight visit, but I feel like I’m being asked to go over and above what child support is supposed to cover,” she says to us. “I want to make our daughter comfortable by having her own things, but I’m tired of being responsible to him.”


The situation has been bugging this single mom for a while. But, just recently, dad lost the head phones for his daughter’s DVD player—and he refused to replace them.


This single mom is unsure whether her coparenting frustration toward her ex is justified. So, please … do offer your perspective on this single dad’s view of child support.


Is this single mom supposed to provide everything?


Or is dad shirking his parenting responsibilities by providing nothing?



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