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How to budget the child support you receive

You've reached a child support agreement with your ex. That's just the beginning. Now you have to focus on spending the money wisely as the primary caregiver for your children. If you're fortunate, your co-parent will pay the support on time and in full every month.

First, create a budget. This is necessary for all people who divorce, whether they have children or receive any type of support or not. Living as a single person is simply more expensive per person than living as part of a married couple. Designate how much money you'll be spending on taking care of your children. This includes clothing, medical expenses, school costs, piano lessons, soccer uniforms and child care.

If you're able to support your children primarily on your income, don't include the child support as you make your budget. Think of that as added money that you can save for future expenses. It will also come in handy should your ex miss a payment or two.

Determine what expenses you'll use the child support for. It's intended for your children's care. You're not legally required to spend it solely on that. However, if your co-parent wants to reduce his or her payments later, it's best if you can show that you've been using the money solely for the kids -- or at least things that are part of their care, like rent and food.

A number of factors may warrant seeking a modification in child support payments. Perhaps you have to go from full-time to part-time work to care for your kids. Maybe your co-parent has a significant increase in income. One of your children may have a medical issue that requires long-term treatment. Another child may enter high school and have higher school expenses and extracurricular costs.

If you're going to seek a modification, it's best to come to the negotiation armed with documentation and other evidence. Your California family law attorney can help you make the strongest possible case.

Source: LiveAbout, "How to Budget for Child Support," Jennifer Wolf, accessed May 29, 2018

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