Child Care Expenses as a Child Support Add-On
Learn how the court adds child care expenses to child support
Child care is a mandatory child support add-on
The California Family Code has a specific child support section dedicated to this subject.
Family Code 4062(a)(1) states the following:
"(a) The court shall order the following as additional child support:
(1) Child care costs related to employment or to reasonably necessary education or training for employment skills..."
The code section is self-explanatory. The court can order a proper division of child care expenses that are related to employment or education.
Sometimes, the court will work the child care expenses into the child support number. Other times, the court will make an order for each parent to pay a percentage of the employment or education related child care expenses.
That percentage is not always equal
A parent may request a disproportional payment of child care expenses if the other parent has significantly more income. If the parent with the higher income pays child support and/or spousal support, he or she can argue the net disposable income is not that different.
Some parents attempts to take unfair advantage of the other parent
For example, a parent who works or goes to school and is the primary custodial parent may use his or her parents (the grandparents of the child) as the child care provider and demand payment to the grandparents for that child care.
There is nothing in the law that requires grandparents to provide child care without being paid for the services. However, the question a parent faced with such an argument should ask is whether that is a true childcare expense the parents will divide? Is it just another way one parent is attempting to divert money toward the grandparents.
A good test is whether the payments are made through a formal means like check or whether there are cash payments. Another test is whether the parent who requests such a payment is actually himself or herself paying the grandparent as opposed to the grandparent only charging the other parent for his or her time.
There is more to this topic but hopefully you get the point that child care expenses are not always straightforward when it comes to family or even friends providing such care.
Another issue that sometimes arises is the reasonableness of the cost
Wealthier parents often afford more elaborate childcare. Those with modest or limited means may not be able to afford the same level of child care. The question is whether the child care expenses are reasonable in light of each parent's financial ability to pay for them. That is a factual question that depends entirely on the individual case.
Contact us for a strategy session
Child care expenses usually do not involve significant litigation. They are usually part of a child custody and child support case regardless of whether the parents were ever married.
Our family law firm is experienced in all aspects of California child support law including child care expenses. If you want an affordable strategy session with one of our experienced family law attorneys, please use the contact form at the bottom of this webpage or call us at any of our offices. We currently have offices in Orange County and Los Angeles. We serve all seven Southern California counties.