In California, many parents that will have to pay child support assume that the child support order will cover all the costs and they will not have to pay any other costs such as day care. They believe that the parent receiving child support should pay day care costs out of the child support. Payors of child support that make this assumption are in for a big surprise. In addition to child support, the court will make mandatory add-ons and in some cases, discretionary add-ons. Family Code sections 4061-4063. What does this mean? It means that the payor of child support will have to pay additional money over and above whatever he or she is paying in child support.
Mandatory Add-ons: In addition to whatever the court orders for child support, the court will order that each party pay one-half of day care expenses and one-half of any uncovered health care expenses. The child care expenses must be related to employment or training for employment. In other words, a parent does not have to pay half of child care so the other parent can go to a movie, the gym or shopping. Uncovered health care expenses include co-pays or any expense that is not covered by insurance. These add-ons go both ways. If the payor of child support incurs uncovered medical costs or day care costs while the child is in their custody, the other parent must pay one-half. These expenses cannot be deducted from child support unless the parent receiving child support agrees.
Discretionary Add-ons: The court can also order the payor to pay discretionary add-ons such as special education expenses and travel expenses. Because these are discretionary, the court has latitude on how much and even if these expenses will be included at all. The travel expenses are generally not included unless the distance poses a significant additional cost, e.g., airfare.
The bottom line is that with these mandatory and discretionary add-ons, the amount of money the payor of child support pays each month could be significantly higher than the child support order. As such, the payor of child support should make sure that they at a minimum, factor day care and uncovered medical expenses into their budget to ensure that they set aside enough money to pay for these. If they don’t, they will be in for a big shock when they are required to pay them. If they refuse to pay them, the other parent can seek enforcement procedures, including contempt.
DISCLAIMER: The foregoing is intended for educational and informational use only. It is in no way legal advice and should not be interpreted as legal advice. If legal advice is needed, you should seek the advice of an attorney.