Back To School: Who Pays Those Extra Expenses?
As the end of the summer school holidays arrives, parents often face the financial challenges the new school year brings. School costs can include new school uniforms, classroom supplied, extra-curricular activity expenses and school tuition and fees. Although it is an exciting time of year, parents who have been divorced, or separated from one another, may be in a difficult situation of attempting to allocate these extra costs between themselves. Even if child support is fully paid, it does not necessarily mean the support will cover these seasonal extra expenses.
Australian Law requires that parents have a primary duty to support their children. But what does that really mean?
The amount of child maintenance one parent receives from the other is determined through a basic formula that takes into account, among others, the parents' adjustable taxable income, each parent's care percentage of the child, and each parent's cost percentage of the child.
Often times, however, a child support assessment simply is not sufficient to cover the extra-curricular cost of raising children. The amount of child maintenance paid is meant to provide the receiving parent financial assistance for the basic needs of the children, such as food, shelter and other items for their general welfare. Sometimes this means the parent receiving support is often left with the additional financial burden of providing the children with these "extra items" because the paying parent's obligation is only confined to the assessed amounts. In these situations, both parents may reach an agreement to make their own arrangements for child support, including extra expenses such as school fees, uniforms etc. This process takes advanced foresight on behalf of the parties, and should the parents come to an agreement, it can be part of a parenting plan or a binding financial agreement.
Extra expenses for the children can be substantial, and one parent should not bear this burden simply because one parent's child support assessment does not necessarily cover these expenses adequately. Although there is no hard line rule in terms of coming to an agreement, the best solution, however, may be to anticipate these recurring costs early on and try to develop a plan with the other parent on how to handle these seasonal expenses in a fair and appropriate manner; for your child’s sake.
If you need assistance with a parenting plan or any other Family Law matter please don't hesitate to our Family Law team on 5440 4800.