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Payments in Addition to Child Support???

November 9, 2016  | 

{3.36 minutes to read} I try to avoid jargon when working with clients. When I’m not successful, it’s easy to spot by the looks on clients’ faces when they have no idea what I’m talking about.

One of these is the phrase “add-ons to child support,” which I tend to use before offering an explanation. This is a very common phrase to professionals who work with separating parents. For the parents themselves, not so much.

The basic child support payment represents payment for the child’s expenses for food, shelter, clothing and miscellaneous items. In the world of child support in New York, add-ons refer to the payments that a parent must or may be ordered to make in addition to the basic child support payment under the Child Support Standards Act (“CSSA”). They are:

  • Health insurance premiums for the child, and unreimbursed healthcare expenses;
  • Work related child care expenses so that a parent can work; and
  • Educational expenses.

The add-ons are variable, and some, such as child care, will decrease as a child attends school, and terminate at a certain age. Others, such as educational expenses (private school or college), will not come into play until a child is older or may not be applicable at all. This is why these irregular items are not computed as part of basic child support.

To the statutory list, parents often discuss other expenses to be shared between them, such as extracurricular expenses, religious education expenses, birthday parties and gifts, tutoring, school trips, tours, and camp.

Pro rata sharing of all of these expenses is not always the most equitable way to address this. Couples may want to consider the following:
  • How much does each party’s budget leave for add-ons, especially when basing child support on a higher income than the cap of combined income under the statute?
  • A pro rata sharing requires some degree of record keeping, so if parties are reluctant to do that, they may prefer that one pays one expense and the other pays another expense.
  • Even if there is a disparity between incomes, an equal sharing may be called for because of other factors, such as the higher income parent paying for marital debt.
  • If one parent has a much higher income, he or she may be able or more willing to pay for more extracurricular activities than the other could afford, so perhaps a limit of extracurricular activities would be in order or the more affluent parent will pay all or most of those expenses.
  • Use of a state school tuition rate to cap a contribution to college expenses that a parent would be required to make.

Once again, parents themselves tend to know what is best for their family and their financial circumstances than what a statute may provide. Mediation allows parents to make decisions based on that knowledge rather than the statute’s guidelines.

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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