What Expenses are Included in Child Support?
Many people wonder and ask what expenses a child support award is intended to cover. It is a good question, because if you are paying child support, you don’t want to “double pay” for an expense if it is already included in your child support payment. And if you are receiving child support, it is good to have an understanding of what expenses are to be paid from the child support you receive.
Provided the parties earn $187, 200 or less in combined income, courts will use the Child Support Guidelines in calculating a child support award. Pursuant to the Guidelines, a support award includes the child’s share of expenses for:
- Unreimbursed medical expenses up to and including the first $250.00 per child per year;
- Entertainment; and
- Miscellaneous items.
New Jersey Rules of Court Appendix IX-A explains in more detail what each of these categories includes:
Housing - Mortgage principal and interest payments or home equity loans, property taxes, insurance, refinancing charges, repairs, maintenance, rent, parking fees, property management or security fees, expenses for vacation homes, lodging while out of town, utilities, fuels, public services, domestic services, lawn care, gardening, pest control, laundry and dry cleaning (nonclothing), moving and storage, repairs on home, furniture, major appliances, purchase or rental of household equipment of tools, postage, laundry or cleaning supplies, cleaning and toilet tissues, household and lawn products, stationary, all indoor and outdoor furniture, floor coverings, all small appliances and housewares (except personal care appliances), all household textiles (e.g., linens, drapes, slipcovers, sewing materials, etc.), and miscellaneous household equipment (e.g., clocks, luggage, light fixtures, computers and software, decorating items, etc.). The net purchase price of a home is not included as expenditures in this category.
Food - All food and non-alcoholic beverages purchased for home consumption or purchased away from home (including vending machines, restaurants, tips, school meals and catered affairs). Non-food items (e.g., tissue papers, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes) are not included.
Clothing - All children's clothing (including school uniforms), footwear (except special footwear for sports), diapers, repairs or alterations to clothing and footwear, storage, dry cleaning, laundry, watches, and jewelry.
Transportation - All costs involved with owning or leasing an automobile including monthly installments toward principal cost, finance charges (interest), lease payments, gas and motor oil, insurance, maintenance and repairs. Also, included are other costs related to transportation such as public transit, parking fees, license and registration fees, towing, tolls, and automobile service clubs. The net outlay (purchase price minus the trade-in value) for a vehicle purchase is not included. Transportation also does not include expenses associated with a motor vehicle purchased or leased for the intended primary use of a child subject to the support order.
Unreimbursed Health Care Up to and Including $250 Per Child Per Year - Unreimbursed health-care expenditures (e.g., medical and dental) up to and including $250 per child per year are included in the schedules. Such expenses are considered ordinary and may include items such as non-prescription drugs, co-payments or health care services, equipment or products. The parent's cost of adding a child to health insurance policy is not included in the schedules.
Entertainment - Fees, memberships and admissions to sports, recreational, or social events, lessons or instructions, movie rentals, televisions, mobile devices, sound equipment, pets, hobbies, toys, playground equipment, photographic equipment, film processing, video games, and recreational, exercise or sports equipment.
Miscellaneous Items - Personal care products and services (e.g., hair, shaving, cosmetics), books and magazines, school supplies, cash contributions, personal insurance, and finance charges (except those for mortgage and vehicle purchases).
This list provides a good framework for parents to understand what expenses are intended to be included in a child support award. Therefore, if a party pays child support, he or she should not be obligated to contribute additional money towards these listed expenses (unless he or she agreed to do so). Similarly, if a supported spouse pays for an expense that is not included in this list, it is possible that he or she can seek additional contribution from the supporting spouse (such as work-related child care, health insurance for the child, predictable and recurring unreimbursed health care expenses in excess of $250 per child per year, and other expenses approved by the court, such as private school, special needs of gifted or disabled children, and visitation transportation expenses).
This information is for general information purpose only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you would like advice regarding your specific circumstances, you should contact a child support lawyer.
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