Extraordinary Expenses In Child Support

Federal Child Support Guidelines provide a bare basics framework for determining how separating parents will split the financial responsibility and cover the costs of raising their children. But the official tables are only a starting point. When a child’s needs don’t fit neatly into the cookie-cutter model, parents may be able to include in their child support arrangement what the law refers to as special or extraordinary expenses.

What Makes An Expense Special Or Extraordinary?

Out-of-the-ordinary child support expenses go beyond the basics such as food and shelter and must meet two basic requirements: They must be both necessary for the child’s best interests and they must also be reasonable when matched against the family’s typical spending habits prior to the separation.

Some examples of extraordinary expenses include:

  • Amounts that the custodial parent incurs to obtain childcare while that parent is working, ill, disabled or taking required, work-related education
  • Insurance premiums that a parent pays to obtain medical and dental care for the child
  • Costs associated with a child’s post-secondary education
  • Special expenses related to a child’s primary or secondary education, such as private schooling or tutoring
  • Extracurricular activities for children with special needs or outstanding talent

Coming To An Agreement On Special Expenses

If the parents agree that a given expense is extraordinary and warrants inclusion within the child support arrangement, parties generally pay their share proportionate to their respective income levels – although alternate divisions can also be negotiated.

As a protection against nonpayment and to ensure legal enforceability, signing parties are wise to specify precise details about the exact nature of the expense, payment due dates and specific dollar amounts in a written support agreement.

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