Divorce agreement with my wife

Aug 8, 2012 by

Question: 

Hello, I have a divorce agreement with my X-wife who has custody of our children 80% of the time. I’m a teacher and pay $2,600 per month in child support which has caused a great strain on my finances. My x-wife has also asked that I pay for additional expenses for my children (for example back-to-school clothes) and I’m not sure if this is necessary or appropriate for her to ask this of me. Are there some guidelines for what is appropriate for me to pay in addition to the child support that I pay already pay her?

I want to be confident when talking to her about healthy boundaries in what she can expect in addition to the child support.

Specifically. Who pays for children’s haircuts, clothes, birthday parties, yearbooks, tutoring, cell phones, social events, movies, orthodontic braces, sports events, sport uniforms.

Should I be paying 20% of these additional expenses since I have custody that portion of the time?

Thanks for any help!

Mark Sherby

State: 
California

Answer: 

If I read your info correctly, the basic problem is that your ex is now asking for more child support. Since you are already paying a significant amount of CS at $2600 per month, it is quite understandable that you would ask if additional money is fair or necessary.

You asked who pays for any “additional expenses” such as the “haircuts, clothes, birthday parties, yearbooks, tutoring, cell phones, social events, movies, orthodontic braces, sports events, sport uniforms” you mentioned. All of those items are usually considered basic child support expenses (except maybe the braces), and do not fall into a separate category of “additional” expenses outside of ongoing child support.

The percentage of time you have custody did not determine what percentage of the child rearing expenses you were ordered to pay at the time of your divorce. The court most likely awarded child support based on your income and ability to pay, not the amount of time you would spend with the kids. Likewise, coverage of additional child expenses will not be percentage-based on the amount of time you spend with the kids either.

When it comes down to it, your spouse is asking for a modification and increase of child support. In California, the court will consider formally modifying child support agreements if the proposed change would result in a difference of 20% or $50, whichever is less. In contested cases where there is no agreement between the ex-spouses, a judge or commissioner will make a ruling on the issue in court.

Your ex can ask for whatever she likes, but you are under no obligation to pay anything over the court-ordered amount of child support. If you do not agree to pay additional money, she will have to ask the court for a formal modification hearing. In California, child support is computed according to the California Child Support Guideline (CCSG) . The CCSG is an equation that multiplys the percentage of time the highest earner is responsible for the child – by both parents’ combined income – and subtracting that from the high earner’s disposable income. Visitation travel expenses or other expenses considered in the best interest of the children can also be added to the total figure.

Whether or not your ex’s request for additional funds is “appropriate” or not is a matter of interpretation. If you do not feel confident in deciding what is appropriate by yourself, you can let the court decide for you after your ex makes a formal request to modify the support orders. It would be nice to be able to give your ex more money any time you are asked, but in the real world you have to draw a line somewhere or the requests for more would never cease. – The Divorce.com Team

Wendy Jaffe and Divorce.com can only provide general information about divorce. DO NOT RELY ON MS. JAFFE’S ADVICE ALONE. Before acting on information provided by Ms. Jaffe or by Divorce.com, talk to an attorney first about your particular facts and the law of your state. By submitting your question to Divorce.com, you are not creating an attorney/client relationship with Ms. Jaffe or with any of the other attorneys listed on this site.

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