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Child Support Obligation – What Can It Cover?

file0001679856317In my last post, I described the various items and expenses that are specifically built into the calculation of a child support obligation pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines in an attempt to explain and describe what a child support obligation is meant to cover.  In addition to the automatic and mandatory expenses built into the Child Support Guidelines calculation of child support, there are a number of expenses that should be included, if they are incurred by a particular family, in the calculation of child support.  Obviously, since some child-related expenses can be large, can vary widely from family to family, or perhaps are not incurred by every family, it would not be appropriate to include these expenses in the basic calculation of child support under the Child Support Guidelines.  Pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines, the following expenses can be included in the child support obligation: work-related child care expenses; health insurance for the child(ren); predictable and recurring unreimbursed medical expenses; and other expenses approved by the Court.  Appendix IX-A and Appendix IX-B, which are found in the New Jersey Rules of Court, further explain each of these categories and what is incorporated into the calculation of the child support obligation.

Child-Care Expenses – The net cost of any and all work related child care, which may include day camp costs, should be included in the Child Support Guidelines calculation of the child support obligation if incurred by the family.  In order to qualify as child care expenses, under the meaning of the Child Support Guidelines, the expenses must be incurred to care for a dependent, minor child who is either under the age of fifteen (15) or physically/mentally handicapped.  Furthermore, these expenses must be incurred as necessary expenses for the employment or job search of the parent.  The Child Support Guidelines presumes that the parent paying for child care will apply for and receive the appropriate tax credits and therefore only the net costs, after the applicaiton of tax credits, should be included.

Health Insurance – The marginal cost of adding the child(ren) to the parent’s health insurance expense should also be included in the Child Support Guidelines calculation of the child support obligation if incurred by the family.  Accordingly, it is imperative that the parent paying for insurance is only given credit for the child(ren)’s portion of the health insurance costs which is why the mariginal cost is utilized.  This formula is better represented by the following equation: (Total Cost of family or parent/child policy) minus (Total Cost of individual policy) = Marginal Cost of Health Insurance for the child(ren).  If the marginal cost is unknown or unavailable, the per capita cost of the family policy should be utilized.  For example, if there are three individuals covered by the plan, two of which are the supported children, then two-thirds (2/3) of the cost for the family policy will be utilized as the appropriate cost of the health insurance under the per capita calculation.  This formula is better represented by the following equation: ((Total cost of family policy)/(Total members covered by the family policy)) x (Total number of supported children) = Per Capita Cost of Health Insurance for the children.  If both parents provide health insurance coverage for the child(ren), then both parents shall be given credit for those payments under the Child Support Guidelines calculation of child support.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Predictable and Recurring Unreimbursed Medical Expenses – As you will recall from my prior post, the first $250.00 per child per year in unreimbursed medical expenses is included in the basic child support obligation under the Child Support Guidelines.  If there are predictable and recurring unreimbursed medical expenses incurred by a parent, they should be added to the basic child support obligation as well.  The Court is guided by the following language to determine if any given expense should be included: the duration and recurring nature of unreimbursed medical expenses.  Again, if both parties incur expenses that qualify, they should both be given credit for those payments under the Child Support Guidelines calculation of child support.  If the expenses are unpredictable or not recurring, then they should not be included in the basic child support obligation and should instead be paid for by the parties pursuant to their income percentage as set forth in the Child Support Guidelines.

Court Approved Expenses – There are additional predictable and recurring expenses that that not every family incurs that the Court has the discretion to add to the basic child support obligation, including but not limited to: private school costs, special needs for gifted/handicapped child(ren), or non-custodial parent transportation costs.  These and any other expenses under this heading must be approved by the Court before they can be included in the basic child support obligation.  Again, if both parties incur expenses that qualify, they should both be given credit for those payments under the Child Support Guidelines calculation of child support.  If the expenses are unpredictable or not recurring, then they should not be included in the basic child support obligation and should instead be paid for by the parties pursuant to their income percentage as set forth in the Child Support Guidelines.

A party that pays child support under the Child Support Guidelines should never be required to contribute additional funds towards any of the above listed expenses that have been added to the basic child support obligation because that parent’s contribution towards those expenses on behalf of the children is covered.  If expenses are incurred that are not covered by or included in the Child Support Guidelines, then the supported spouse would be required to seek and the supporting spouse could be required to pay those expenses above and beyond the child support obligation.  Based upon the expenses listed above and the expenses previously discussed in my prior post, there are a considerable amount of expenses that are or should be included in the child support obligation that is calculated under the Child Support Guidelines.  Having considerable experience and expertise in the area of child support obligations and the Child Support Guidelines, the attorneys at James P. Yudes, P.C., are available to assist you with any additional questions or concerns that one might have.