Child Support

Certain Expenses Are Added to "Basic" Child Support 

The Guidelines are specific about what additional expenses may be considered over and above the "basic child support" calculation.  The three specific categories are "extraordinary medical expenses", "work-related child care" expenses and "school and transportation" expenses.  In each instance, if the court decides that these expenses should be added to the basic child support, the amount of the expenses determined to exist will be allocated between the parents on a percentage basis equal to each parent's percentage contribution to the combined adjusted actual incomes.

Extraordinary Medical Expenses

The Guidelines mandate that extraordinary medical expenses incurred on behalf of a child shall be added to the basic child support obligations. "Extraordinary medical expenses" are uninsured expenses over $100 for a single illness or condition.  As set forth in the statute, "extraordinary medical expenses" include: "... uninsured, reasonable, and necessary costs for orthodontia, dental treatment, asthma treatment, physical therapy, treatment for any chronic health problem, and professional counseling or physical therapy, treatment for any chronic health problem, and professional counseling or psychiatric therapy for diagnosed mental disorders." 

Work Related Child Care Expenses

The obligation to contribute to work-related child care expense is not necessarily mandatory.  The word "shall" is not quite as compelling as it is for extraordinary medical expenses.  The Guidelines provide that child care expenses shall be determined by actual family experience, unless the court determines that the actual family experience is not in the best interests of the child.  Needless to say, this is a variable standard which is often the subject of debate between parents.  If, however, a court does determine that the actual family experience with respect to the payment of assistance for work-related child care is in the best interests of a child or children, the court is then required to determine the child care expense by actual family experience.  It would be wrong for the court to totally eliminate child care. Remember, this is work-related child care expenses-not a babysitter.  If you are attempting to calculate your own child support, make sure you have verification from the child care provider of the cost of child care and of the hours of child care - so you can be sure it is "work-related".

School and Transportation Expenses

This is often an aea of dispute between parents.  The Guidelines provide that school and transportation expenses should be divided between the parents in proportion to their adjusted actual incomes and should include:

a Any expenses for attending a special or private elementary or secondary school to meet the particular educational needs of the child; o

b Any expense for transportation of the child between the homes of the parents. Courts generally will look at the following considerations:

1  The terms of any agreement between the parties, verbal or written, including whether the parents had made the choice to send the child to the school prior to their divorce.

2  Whether the child is already in private or parochial school, including the child's educational history, the number of years the child has been in attendance at that particular school and the child's performance while in the private school. It is often in a child's best interest to remain in a school in which she or he has been successful academically.

3  Family History. Whether the family has a tradition of attending a particular school or whether there are other family members currently attending the school. This can include a review of the family’s religious background and the importance to the family unit, of the private school which is religiously-oriented.

4 Any other factor which might impact upon the child's best interests, including the child's need for stability and continuity during the difficult time of the parents' separation and divorce.

5 Finally, courts must take into consideration the parents' ability to pay for the schooling. While not the primary factor, it is vital for a court to consider whether a parent's financial obligation would impair significantly his or her ability to support himself or herself as well as to support the child when the child is in his or her care.

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