Monday, December 26, 2011

Add Ons to Child Support

So here you are, finalizing your divorce, and you notice that your spouse is not only asking for weekly payments for child support, but wants additional payments for other costs such as:  private school tuition, tutors, swim lessons, any and all associated medical costs of the children, and pretty much any cost that can be associated with your childen.  So you start thinking:  "Hey!  What happened to just paying regular child support checks?  What are all these other costs that I have to pay for?"  These, my friend, are called "Add Ons for Child Support."  


First of all, let's make sure we differentiate between "basic child support" and "add on support."  Basic child support is the percentage calculated according to New York State Domestic Relations Law for support based on a parent’s income.  However, "Add on support" is additional support for other costs such as:  health insurance and unreimbursed medical expenses, some educational costs, and daycare. 

To calculate what each parent has to pay for "add on" child support, each parent must look at each cost incurred and then apply what their pro rata share is for the expense.  For example, if each parent earns $50,000, each would pay 50% of the add on costs.  If one parent earns $20,000 and the other earns $80,000 they would pay 20% and 80%, respectively, of the add on costs.  These percentages are often included in a divorce stipulation or agreement, as they are additional costs beyond simply what a parent would have to pay under the law.  

Currently, parents can deviate from their pro rata shares of the add on child support, but their agreement or the court order must specify their reasons for the deviation.  The parties may also agree to include additional “add on” support categories, such as the cost of camps and extracurricular activities for their children. 

Domestic Relations Law §240 (1)(d) provides that the cost of the health care insurance premium must be paid by the parties in accordance with the pro rata shares.  Domestic Relations Law §240 (1-b)(c)(5) provides that reasonable health care expenses that are not covered by insurance, i.e., unreimbursed medical expenses, are allocated in the same proportion as each parent’s income is to the combined parental income.  In determining which parent should carry the insurance for the children, the Court normally investigates who is offered insurance by their employer, the comprehensiveness of the insurance offered, and the cost of such premiums.  In most cases, the children will remain covered under the better health care plan, although not in every situation.  

Domestic Relations Law §240 (1-b)(c)(4) and Domestic Relations Law §240 (1-b)(c)(6) provide that a "custodial parent who is working, is looking for work, or is in school or training which will lead to employment and incurs reasonable day care expenses, such expenses must be paid by the parties in accordance with the pro rata shares." 

For parties who agree that their children will attend private school, or whose children have been enrolled in private school prior to the commencement of a divorce action, they may be obligated to pay these educational expenses in accordance with their pro rata shares.  These often must be paid on a weekly or monthly basis, in addition to the child support payments that were ordered or agreed upon.  


Also keep in mind that "education" expenses will often times expand beyond just the direct costs of attending school.  As mentioned above, these include tutoring, activities, sports, or even a private driver if doing so is necessary for the safety of the children.  

The main thng to keep in mind through your divorce and when preparing your divorce agreement, is that if you allow "add ons" to be included in child support, your required payments might be much much higher than what you initially imagined.  

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