A common concern of divorcing parents is what expenses are covered by child support. New York provides for basic child support and add-on child support expenses. Basic child support encompasses food, clothing and shelter and the amount is determined by a statutory formula. Everything else is an add-on expense which may or may not be paid depending on what the parties agree, or a judge decides.
Add-on child support expenses include health insurance premiums, unreimbursed medical costs, child care, private school, college, summer camp, extracurricular school activities, tutoring, and life insurance among other things. If the child has special needs, any related costs would also fall under add-on expenses. All additional expenses are paid pro rata according to the parties’ respective incomes. This is a different rule than applies to basic child support. Generally, under New York law, the parent who has primary physical custody gets basic child support from the other parent.
While it is usually within the court’s discretion to order a party to pay these expenses, there are a few exceptions. New York law does require payment of basic child care expenses if the parent needs it in order to work, look for work, or get an education to improve job prospects. These costs would be shared pro rata like other add-on expenses. In addition, payment of health insurance premiums also is required, but must be shared pro rata between the parties.
In deciding whether to order payment of other add-on expenses, the court will look to give children the same standard of living they would have if their parents were together. The law requires full financial disclosure from both parties to determine the proper amount of support. Best practice is for parties to negotiate a child support agreement rather than go to court. The agreement should be detailed, particularly if there are certain expenses that a party wants to make sure are covered. This helps avoid future litigation.
An experienced attorney can help you understand how the law calculates mandatory and discretionary add-on expenses and facilitate a settlement of these issues. If you are a parent considering divorce, please contact us so we can assist you in finding the best solution for you and your children.