Guideline Child Support: Room and Board
Guideline child support basically covers room and board. That’s the living expenses for a child incurred by the parent caring for the child. Built into the formula is the idea that the child should have a similar living experience at both parents’ houses. It is not usually ok for one parent to live a posh lifestyle while the other parent lives in squalor.
More than the bare necessities
A common misconception is that guideline child support only covers the barest of necessities. This is not quite right. It can cover a broad range of expenses like entertainment, family luxuries or even fast food. The key is that the child is being maintained at his or her standard of living- which may be well above mere necessities.
No second-guessing how a parent spends the child support
Additionally, the paying parent does not get to second-guess how the payee spends the money. The family courts don’t make parents prove that they are using the child support for the children. Instead, they just assume that the parent getting the support is paying for the child’s needs. (Although if the child’s needs aren’t being met, a court may order and explanation.)
Beyond room and board, the court will also order “mandatory add-ons”. For instance, parents equally split the costs of unreimbursed medical, counseling, therapy and orthodontia costs. Parties also split child care costs related to work or to education needed for further employment.
There are also “discretionary add-ons,” which cover stuff like extracurricular activities, sports, camp or private school that guideline child support doesn’t cover. They are discretionary because the judge has the choice to order these costs split or not. Most of the time, parties can agree on the discretionary add-ons.