My last column “Who pays for college?” prompted several emails inquiring as to other considerations to keep in mind where divorce and children are concerned.
Child support is naturally the first one that everyone thinks about. The Florida divorce law statute stipulates that parents have a legal duty and moral obligation to support and educate their children, which includes providing them with adequate food, clothing, shelter and the basic necessities of life. The amount of child support awarded is in accordance with the child support guidelines, which take into account the combined net income of the parents and the number of children.
The child support obligation continues until a child is no longer dependent on the parents. A dependent child is one who relies on the parents for support.
The reasons for the dependency could be:
• The child is under the age of 18
• The child has a mental or physical disability that prevents self-support
• The child is in high school, between the ages of 18 and 19, with a reasonable expectation of graduation before the age of 19.
But keep in mind that there are several other child-related expenses normally considered outside the scope of child support. In these cases, a determination needs to be made as to what expenses will be paid and how much will be the responsibility of each parent.
One of the most important of these is medical- related expenses for a child. Who will pay for the medical insurance premium and for what type of coverage? When one spouse is covered by a major medical group policy through their employer, this is usually not a major issue. However, such is not the case if one or both spouses have individual medical insurance policies, as the coverage may be very expensive. And there are the costs of co-pays and deductibles to consider as well.
Another large expense is private school. Assuming both parents agree on the need for a private education, the cost of tuition needs to be accounted for. And keep in mind other school-related expenses, such as uniforms, field trips and tutoring, among many others.
Finally there are the expenses related to extra circular activities and camps, which can be significant depending on the types of activities. Alone, participation in sports can mean expensive league fees and travel team expenses. And we all know how expensive away camps can be. And the younger the child at the time of the divorce, the more these expenses amount over time.
Generally speaking there is no set formula as to who will pay for what expenses and how much. It all boils down to a negotiation with regard to what percentage of the expenses each parent will pay. Of course, the parent with the greater income will likely pay for a larger portion of these expenses.
As is life, misguided and uninformed decisions always cost money in a divorce.
Carlos Blanco founded Matters of Divorce www.mattersofdivorce.com to provide answers, referrals and support to people considering divorce or who recently have been divorced. He may be contacted by calling 305-908-1171 or sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org.