Understanding Child Support Before The Start Of A New School Year

  •   |   Meghan Freed

If you are a parent, the start of a new school year will likely bring an onslaught of expenses to your plate as you prepare your child for success. For divorced parents who are co-parenting, however, covering these expenses may become tricky. If you pay child support, you may think, “Shouldn’t my payments cover those costs?” Meanwhile, if you are the parent who receives child support, you are likely wondering, “How will I cover all of these costs?” In this blog, you’ll get a better understanding of how child support works, what expenses it is intended to cover, and how co-parents can work together to make a plan for dividing the costs associated with sending their child into another school year.

How Is The Amount Of Child Support Calculated?

Following a divorce or separation of a relationship that yielded children, a judge will first determine whether the child/children in question are in need of maintenance. If the judge concludes that they are, the court will consider several factors before confirming the amount that should be paid. Those factors are:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Station
  • Occupation
  • Earning capacity
  • Amount of income
  • Sources of income
  • Estate
  • Vocational skills of each parent
  • Needs of the child

For a more specific estimation, you may want to reference the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines which provides a mathematical formula with a much higher rate of predictability and consistency.

What Expenses Does Child Support Cover In Connecticut?

With so many things that need to be purchased at once, both paying and receiving parents may need a refresher on what expenses Connecticut intends child support payments to cover: essentially, the basics. Child support does not encompass every type of expense that arises from raising a child, and is designed to fund the costs associated with their shelter, food, and clothing. Consequently, back-to-school purchases are largely not covered by child support payments.

Back-To-School Shopping: How Much Does It Actually Cost?

The end of summer is the second-most expensive season of the year, beaten only by the end-of-year holiday season. Most Americans report starting back-to-school shopping for their children in late July to early August. It is estimated that the average household will have a budget of nearly $900 when it comes to the expenses associated with a new school year in 2023, with an average budget of $597 per child. What are those funds spent on, exactly? The average K-12 household data shows that around 37% is spent on electronics or computer equipment, around 29% is spent on clothing or accessories, around 19% is dedicated to purchasing new shoes, and 16% is slated for classroom supplies. While basic supplies such as paper and pencils are givens, there are many other out-of-pocket expenses that are left out when it comes to the budget, such as:

  • Registration fees
  • Musical instruments
  • Sports equipment
  • Transportation
  • Field trip fees
  • School breakfast/lunch fees
  • Club dues
  • And more!

Moreover, current levels of inflation may leave many parents spending more than they anticipated. Research shows that 67% of shoppers reported higher prices on back-to-class items, and many borrowed from other budgets in order to cover those expenses. Altogether, the costs associated with beginning a new school year are nothing to turn a blind eye to.

How Can Co-Parents Make A Plan For Dividing Expenses That Are Not Covered By Child Support, Both Now And Later?

Obviously, this is not the only time of year that your child will have expenses that stem from their schooling or education. While it is important for co-parents to hash out the details in order to ensure a successful start to the school year, this is not a temporary issue. Throughout the year, there will likely be many other instances in which your child needs money, so it would be in your best interest to develop a solid plan now for how those expenses will be divided between parents. Some possible options are:

  • 50/50 split – Splitting expenses equally between parents is a common strategy, but may not always be the best option if one parent earns significantly less than the other.
  • Income-based split – When there’s a significant difference in income between two parents, splitting expenses proportionally might make the most sense and be the most equitable. For example, if one parent makes 25% more than the other, they may be responsible for paying 25% more of the expenses for their shared children.
  • Value-based split – This option requires examining who benefits from the expense and assigning the responsibility to that parent. For example, if one parent wants the child to take up piano lessons, they become responsible for the expenses that it incurs.

What If One Parent Refuses To Help Cover Expenses?

If you are having issues with splitting expenses with your co-parent, an open and honest conversation can go a long way. There may be a legitimate reason why they are short on funds or their contributions aren’t coming in a timely manner. In that case, you can both communicate your issues and come up with a new agreement. If you successfully reach one, good for you. Your next step is to speak to your family lawyer to confirm whether it needs to be submitted to the court.

However, in the event that your co-parent is resistant to helping pay any expenses, you may need to get a mediator or family lawyer involved. The presumption is that both parents of a child should share the financial obligation of raising them. If you are not getting the financial help you think you should, a skilled attorney can advocate on your behalf for a plan that dictates how each parent will contribute.

Call Freed Marcroft Today To Learn More!

If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on how to divide the expenses of your shared children, it may be time to take legal action. At our firm, you are never just another case file. We personalize our legal strategies to meet the unique needs and goals of your family. You can rely on the knowledge of our experienced attorneys to reach a successful resolution. Call today to schedule your consultation!

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC