It costs a lot to raise a child. But for some reason, it seems like the child support order never covers all of the costs and expenses and one parent often ends up paying more out of pocket than the other. It just doesn’t seem fair. Well, there is something you can do about it, but you have to be informed and proactive.
And in Tennessee, the law requires parents to pay an amount of child support that is based on the gross income of the parents (with certain adjustments) and the number of children that are being supported. This is called the Income Shares Model.
But there are other expenses that can be added to the child support calculation too. And you, as the parent receiving support (or in some cases, not receiving support but still paying out of pocket for additional expenses) need to tell your attorney or the judge (if you appear in court unrepresented) that you are paying these additional expenses. The additional expenses can be added to the child support obligation, ensuring that the both parents are paying these additional out of pocket expenses.
For example, some things that should be added to the child support calculation are:
- work related childcare expenses (this applies to expenses necessary for the parent’s education/vocational training also) ( (Rule 1240-2-4-.04(8)(c))
- parenting time adjustments –If the other parent spends less than 69 days with the child, then an adjustment can be made for that.
- cost of the children’s health and/or dental insurance premiums (Rule 1240-2-4-.08(b)
DEVIATIONS FROM THE CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES
There are also extraordinary expenses that can be used to adjust the child support obligation. However, before the Court orders the parents to pay these additional expenses, the Court will consider the best interests of the child and the income and expenses of the parents. (Rule 1240-2-4-.07)
So, if the parents don’t have the income to afford these special expenses, the Court is not likely to order them. And just because one parent thinks that their child needs private violin lessons or private tennis lessons doesn’t mean that the Judge will order the other parent to help pay for those. But, if you think that these expenses are necessary and appropriate, you can and should ask the Judge to add them to the child support calculation.
- additional travel expenses related to the fact that the parents live a distance from each other.
- extraordinary educational expenses such as private school tuition, educational fees such as lab fees, book fees, etc.
- fees for the child’s special education needs
- summer camp expenses
- music or art lessons
- school sponsored extra-curricular activities
- recurring medical expenses not covered by insurance (Rule 1240-2-4-.04(8)(d))
You should give your attorney or the Court your documentation of all of these expenses. Having the documentation makes it possible for the Court to see the actual costs of the expenses and to add a specific amount to the calculation.
The Tennessee basic child support guidelines don’t take into account a lot of the additional expenses that you pay in order to provide the best for your child(ren). A little information can help you make sure that both parents help pay for all of the things that your children need to grow into happy, health, successful adults. And isn’t that what we all want for our children?