While not mandatory, add-ons are more often than not a major part of the financial support for children of parents going through divorce. Often, however, these expenses can be forgotten when talking about basic child support.
The New York State Courts have established guidelines for parents of minor children to help them with the calculation of their basic child support obligations. Basic child support is an amount of money contributed by the non-custodial parent (the parent who has the children the least number of nights per year) to the custodial parent towards payment of rent, utilities, food and basic clothing for the children.
However, there are many additional expenses that need to be addressed; they are often costly and can vary tremendously depending on the age of the children and the lifestyle of the family. We refer to these additional costs as “add-ons.”
In mediation, parents often ask: “What are our obligations in regards to the add-ons?”
The answer is actually that, aside from health insurance coverage for the children, there are really no other obligatory expenses. Parents have to decide and agree together on what will be considered as add-ons. Here are some of the more common additional expenses that are involved in raising children:
- Education/college tuition;
- Extracurricular activities, sports, tutoring;
- School trips and contributions to PTA or school events;
- Cell phones and allowances;
- Birthday presents/gifts for friends;
- Orthodonture; and
- Unreimbursed medical expenses.
However, the standards do say that these add-ons should be shared by both parents, proportionate to their income.
During the mediation process, parents spend time brainstorming and creating budgets of their children’s needs. We all know that it can be hard to project expenses further than the first or second year following the divorce, especially while the children are still very young.
Parents will need to find common ground as to their goals for their children’s upbringing. Working out add-ons is much harder than figuring out basic child support, because while parents would like to give their children the very best they can, they also have to balance their wishes with their budgets. Also, parents will need to review the add-ons on a regular basis and adjust them as needed.
If you are going through divorce, or are post-divorce, and need help working out the add-ons for your children, mediation will offer you a safe place to have these conversations. I can help you think outside of the box in order to create the best plan for your children going forward.
jennifer safian. divorce and family mediator
divorce and family mediation
upper east side of manhattan (nyc)
new york, ny