Child Expenses and Child Support: The Basics

Child Support and Contribution to Child Expenses is usually awarded to the parent who has custody (now known as “majority parenting time” and/or “residential custody”) in a parentage, divorce or legal separation matter from the non custodial parent.

Child Support

A court will order the parent who does not have custody or majority parenting time of the child (i.e. noncustodial parent) to pay child support to the custodial parent. Child support is designed to contribute to the child’s most basic needs including food, clothing, and shelter. The amount for child support is generally based on the noncustodial parent’s net income. Child support is meant to meet a child’s needs in a manner consistent with what the child’s standard of living would have been had the parents not separated. The custodial parent’s income is irrelevant, since, had the parents not separated, the child presumably would have benefited from the combined income of both parents.

The amount for child support also depends on how many children the parents have together, including but not limited to: children who were adopted by the parents together, children of one spouse who were adopted by the other spouse, and children born to the parents together. Children from other relationships are not taken into account. . If the parents have only one child together, the noncustodial parent must pay twenty percent of his or her net income to the custodial parent. This percentage increases by child, but cannot exceed fifty percent of the noncustodial parent’s net income.

A noncustodial parent can petition the court to modify the child support obligation only if they show a substantial change in circumstances. There are cases where a court will deviate child support based upon the non custodian’s financial and living circumstances. Likewise, a custodial parent can petition the court to base child support on the needs of the child if they can show that they are unable to support the child on their own income along with the current child support amount received. Additionally, a custodial parent can impute the income of the non custodial parent should there be evidence of non disclosure

Child support typically ends on the child’s eighteenth birthday. If the parents have more than one child, then child support is reduced to the statutory amount for the remaining children. If the child is still attending high school on their eighteenth birthday, then child support will continue until the earlier of the nineteenth birthday or high school graduation. Child support may end before the child’s eighteenth birthday if the child joins the armed forces, obtains full-time employment, permanently moves out of the custodial parent’s home, or gets married.

Other Expenses

A court also has discretion to order both parties to pay certain expenses for the child’s needs beyond those covered by child support. These additional needs include the cost of health insurance, the cost of medical/dental/optical procedures not covered by the child’s insurance, extracurricular activities, and other educational needs. If the child needs to be in child care then the court may also order the parties to contribute to these expenses.

Typically, a court will order the parents to pay for the costs based upon the proportion of their income. In some cases, a court may simply order both parties to equally contribute to these expenses. Often, a court will order that the custodial parent pay the full cost of each bill, and then provide a copy of the receipt of each payment to the noncustodial parent, who is then ordered to reimburse the custodial parent for half of the cost. In other cases, or where more convenient such as to a babysitter, the court will order that each party pay their obligation of the total expense directly to the service provider.

If the parents cannot agree on whether the child should participate in an activity or receive a service and one parent petitions the court to make a decision, a court will have discretion to decide whether that the child participate in an activity or expense and will decide how much each parent should contribute to that activity or expense.

If you are having difficulty assessing how much child support should be for your child and need representation regarding your child’s expenses call Kiswani Law, P.C. today for your free phone consultation at 708-210-9247.