What expenses are covered by child support?
There is no dispute that parents are equally responsible to provide financial support for their dependent children. During the divorce process, either the court or the attorneys representing the divorcing parent will calculate child support for the children of the marriage. The noncustodial parent is then responsible to pay his/her share of the child support to the custodial parent.
Although the calculation of child support is usually straight forward, complications often do arise. For example, who is responsible to pay for additional expenses such as extracurricular activities, related equipment or non-work related camps? What if the Court did not order either parent to pay those expenses or their settlement agreement is silent?
New Jersey courts are mandated by the Rules of Court to calculate child support in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines. The child support calculation represents the average amount an intact family spends on their children. These child support awards were designed to cover several expenses, incurred on behalf of children, including but not limited to housing, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment. The list of expenses included in child support according to the Court rules is seemingly exhaustive. Yet, conflicts do arise, especially when children are enrolled in sports such as lacrosse or hockey where the equipment costs alone can be burdensome for one parent to carry. Or, when a child wants to attend a sports or science camp, which is not related to a parent’s need to work but geared towards a child’s interests or passions.
An attorney can assist a party in reaching an agreement about contribution towards extracurricular activities, related equipment and non-work related camps in the absence of a court order or language in their settlement agreement that clearly covers those issues. For parties contemplating divorce or currently in the process, discuss with counsel the activities your children are interested in pursuing now and possibly in the future. An attorney can assist you in including language which would insure both parties are responsible for payment of those expenses.
Source: “The Not-So-Basic Fundamentals of the Child Support Guidelines” by Maria A. Giammona, Esq., New Jersey Family Lawyer, Volume 32, Number 6, April 2012.