In addition to the guideline child support amount on the DissoMaster report, additional child support may be ordered for certain expenses such as child care costs. These additional amounts are called child support “add-ons” as they increase the base guideline child support amount. There are mandatory add-ons that must be included in a child support order. There are also discretionary add-ons that the court may order as additional child support. The add-ons may be added to the monthly base child support on the DissoMaster so that the payee parent receives a set amount each month in combined child support (base and add-ons). If the add-ons fluctuate each month, then it may be preferable for each parent to pay his or her share directly to the provider, or the parent incurring the expense pays the entire expense first and seeks reimbursement from the other parent.
Mandatory Child Support Add-Ons: There are two mandatory child support add-ons: Child care costs and uninsured health care costs.
Child Care Costs Add-On: The court must order as additional child support the child care costs related to a parent’s employment or reasonably necessary education or training for employment skills. This means that if you have physical custody of your child and also need to work and thus need child care, then the other parent will be ordered to pay one-half of your child care costs incurred so that you could work. The same would be true going the other way: If the other parent has physical custody and also needs to work and as a result incurs child care costs, then you would be ordered to pay one-half of the other parent’s child care costs. Note that this mandatory add-on does not cover child care costs for times when you are not working and need a babysitter in order to be able to take care of personal commitments or errands.
Uninsured Health Care Costs Add-On: The court must order as additional child support any reasonable uninsured health care costs incurred for the child. The parents each pay one-half of the out-of-pockets costs, such as the co-payment or deductible. Health care costs include medical care, dental care, orthodontia, ophthalmic care, and mental health treatment.
Discretionary Child Support Add-Ons: The court has the discretion to order additional child support add-ons.
Educational expenses: The court may order an add-on for private school tuition. Private school tuition is not mandatory, but the court may order the add-on if the parent has the ability to pay the tuition and especially if the child is currently attending private school or has special education needs. The educational expense add-on may also include tutoring costs.
Extracurricular activities: The court may order a child support add-on for the child’s recreational and extracurricular activities, such as sports, martial arts, music lessons, etc.
Who pays the child support add-on? For all child support add-ons, the court generally allocates the expenses 50/50. However, if a parent requests a different allocation, the court may order a different allocation proportionate to the parents’ respective adjusted net disposable income.
Other child support add-on considerations: Additional provisions may be added to the court order, such as the parties will only share the costs if the expenses were mutually agreed upon in advance. This is especially relevant to extracurricular activities when parents do not agree for the child to participate in expensive activities.
There are also detailed procedures for payment and seeking reimbursement of uninsured health care costs that will be discussed in a future blog entry.
Ventura County family law attorney Christine Nguyen Thomas can help you with your child support matter. Call the Law Office of Christine Nguyen Thomas for a consultation. We serve the Ventura County area: Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, Ojai, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Moorpark, Simi Valley, and Thousand Oaks. Call (805) 351-8866 to schedule an appointment.