Child Support Costs the Courts Cannot Order
There are a lot of things that parents may have considered no-brainers, or must-haves when they were together., However, following divorce, parents may not feel obligated to pay for these expenses in addition to their child support obligation. This is especially true when it comes to elective purchases, private schooling, and support extending beyond childhood. This is not to say that you and your spouse cannot agree to these things on your own. However, the court simply will not order that a parent pay for them. For some parents, this may be a relief, however for others, it may be a chance to consider saving up for some of these larger life expenses.
The courts will typically not require that one party pay for private school. After all, it is not the court’s job to decide what education is right or best for a child. Thus, it is up to the parents to agree if the child should attend private school, and how the private school will be paid for. In this scenario, parents should consider adding a clause to the agreement addressing payment for private school. It should state whether any tuition paid should be credited towards the parent for child support. Additionally, parents should state the duration of the obligation to pay for tuition.
In Florida, the courts are split on whether parents are obligated to pay for orthodontist appointments. As of now, Hillsborough County and Pinellas County do not require that a parent must pay for braces. Although braces can help improve the appearance of one’s smile, as well as correct a bite, they are considered elective in the eyes of the court. This means the court cannot require a parent pay for them.
Often the courts do require that parents pay for their children’s college, or require it as part of a parenting plan or child support order. However, parents may agree to it on their own accord. For parents who are concerned about the cost of college tuition, or want to ensure that college tuition will be paid for prior to the termination of child support is allocating a portion of child support to be placed in a 529 plan, or a prepaid college fund.
Courts generally will not order that a parent buy their child a car upon turning 16 or getting a license. A court generally will not order a parent to pay a percentage of the minor child’s car expense. In a split-household, it would be ideal for both parents to contribute to this expense once the child turns 16. This is because the child is going to be responsible for driving themselves places. In turn this burden is taken off the parents physically and financially. Therefore, it only makes sense that if financially feasible, they contribute even slightly to this expense. However, there is no requirement that the court must order parents to cover this expense.
Unless your child develops some sort of special need, the courts do not extend child support obligation past minority. This means the court will not order support that goes beyond their 18th birthday or their graduation from high school. Thus, if a child turns 18 during their senior year of high school, the parent paying child support is required to continue payments until the child graduates high school.
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These are a few examples of costs that courts cannot force parents to pay in child support. If you’re in need of further counsel regarding your divorce, call Anton Garcia Law. We’re a group of family lawyers in Tampa, with the experience and expertise needed to solve divorce and family law cases.