All states have child support guidelines that enable a court to calculate basic child support. While use of the guidelines is required, they do not cover children after age 18 or graduation from high school nor do they cover some of the extras that children want and need. At times, using a mediator may help parents work through the financial conflicts.
Child Support Guidelines
The child support guidelines provide a method of calculating how much each parent should contribute to the basic cost of raising a child or children, based on the comparative income of the parents. These basic costs include housing, clothing, food, after school activities, school supplies, and all other routine day-to-day expenses. The guidelines further provide for allocating the cost of health insurance, extraordinary health care, day care, and transportation costs. Where the parties have agreed on private schooling, the guidelines can provide a means of dividing the cost of tuition and fees. Child support under the guidelines should provide a standard of living for the child consistent with the income of the parents.
Outside the Guidelines
Parents often want more for their children than that provided under the guidelines. One parent may want private school, religious education, summer camp, even expensive vacations. Less expensive extras may include prom expenses, car insurance, a computer, or tutoring. The most expensive item considered by parents is usually a college education. Some parents willingly agree to contribute to such costs; others either do not agree or want to limit the amount he or she is required to contribute. When the parents cannot agree as to the activities and amounts, mediation may help.
Through the use of mediation, parents can state what they want for the children. The parents can also explain to each other any concerns about not making a long term commitment. A father could worry about his ability to contribute toward college eight years later. A mother may worry about agreeing to pay for summer camp for one child, when she has financial responsibilities for children from a different relationship. A mediator will be able to make suggestions to assist the parents in reaching an agreement that both can live with and can provide a means for modifications when conditions change.
Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
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