Guideline child support covers room and board- 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 considered ok for one parent to live in a posh lifestyle while the other parent lives in squalor. Additionally, the paying parent does not get to second-guess how the payee spends the money.
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 reasonably calculated to lead to further employment.
There are also “discretionary add-ons,” which cover stuff like extracurricular activities, sports, camp or private school tuition that guideline child support doesn’t cover. They are discretionary because the judge has the discretion to order these costs split or not. Most of the time, parties can agree on the discretionary add-ons.