Most people who find themselves subject to a support order learn quickly that child support is based on two primary factors: what are the parties’ respective incomes or earning capacities and who exercises custody of the children? Since the courts can’t be bogged down in counting where children are from minute to minute, the basis upon which child support is based depends on where overnights are spent. If both parents make equal incomes but don’t share equal physical custody of their children, the primary custodian is likely in a position to receive an award of child support, depending on ancillary costs such as who provides insurance. Conversely, if parents share equal custody but one parent earns a greater income than the other, the income-dominant parent is likely to have an order in support entered against him or her. These concepts are fairly simple, but it’s important to understand the other elements of a support order.
Unreimbursed medical expenses and child care costs will be included in a child support order but may be incorporated differently. Generally, unreimbursed medical expenses shall be shared after the recipient of support pays the first $250 per year, per child. The manner in which the balance of yearly costs is shared is commensurate with each party’s respective percentage of the parties’ combined net monthly income. Simplistically, if the parties’ combined net monthly income is $10,000 and the recipient of child support earns $3,000 net income per month, he or she shall be responsible for the first $250 of unreimbursed medical expenses per child, per year, plus 30 percent of any remaining, unreimbursed expenses.
Child care can be trickier. It may be tempting to build into the support order whatever the child care costs are at the time a support order is entered, but is that best for you, bearing in mind that what is easiest isn’t always what is best? If child care costs are built into the overall order and decrease or become eliminated as children enter school years, the order needs to be amended. Also, those same costs are amortized and paid throughout the year, not just during the months when needed. This is great for the recipient but not for the payor. In the scenario just described, it is logical for the parent paying support to prefer that child care costs be excluded from the support figure and, instead, be divided using the same percentage of total monthly net income as described above and paid directly to the child care provider by both parties. This eliminates a need for modification of the order due to changes in child care costs that increase or decrease. It also allows the party paying support to be fully informed of any changes in costs that occur but may otherwise not be reported.
At Williams Family Law, we recognize that no two child support cases are the same and, even in the seemingly “simple” matters, the devil is in the details. The Bucks County child support attorneys at Williams Family Law ensure your support order is accurate not only on the day it is entered, but well beyond.