Are you shortchanging yourself on child support payments?
By Scaringi & Scaringi P.C.
Did you get short-changed on money spent on child care costs when your latest monthly support amount was calculated by Domestic Relations?
Chances are the answer is yes if you didn’t correctly account for and document what you’re spending on child care.
Many times as part of our family law practice, we see parents who have hurt themselves during Domestic Relations support conferences by not keeping track of how much they’re spending on child support.
During these conferences, support payments are argued by the parties and their attorneys, and the amounts are calculated by the conference officer. Payments are then monitored by Domestic Relations staff.
The goal of our child support system is to make sure that both parents are contributing an equitable portion of their incomes toward the financial needs of feeding, clothing, educating and caring for their children.
Yet one important expense often gets left out of the child support calculation.
Don’t let that happen to you.
What the law says about child care
Under Pennsylvania’s rules of civil procedure, reasonable child care expenses incurred by either parent in order to maintain their employment or their schooling in pursuit of income should be allocated between both parties in proportion to their total income.
That means if you are spending money on child care while you’re at work, in school or training to land a job, your child support should reflect these costs. But this can’t happen unless you are diligent about tracking, documenting and claiming these expenses.
It sounds simple enough, yet we find it’s overlooked by busy parents – especially harried, cash-strapped single mothers who could most use the extra support.
Time and again we’ve seen parents who are struggling to make ends meet not take the time to maintain records of how much they’re spending on child care costs.
Documented child care expenses are added on top of the child support amount, which is calculated based on the two parents’ relative incomes. That means the other parent needs to pay his or her proportional share of child care costs.
This holds true even when a family member is watching your children – as long as you regularly pay the family member for that service.
Simply write a check
Providing copies of checks shows a regular track record of child care payments. Write “child care’’ in the memo field so there’s no question about what the payment is covering. That’s all the woman in this case would have had to show to have those expenses factored into a new support amount, in direct proportion to the two parents’ relative incomes.
Receipts from a day care provider are also an excellent way to prove child care expenses and even a signed a notarized letter from the child care provider confirming her services can be used to prove your expenses for childcare while you go to work or school.
So the next time you go to pay for child care services, be it a relative or at day care, grab your checkbook. When it comes time for your next child support conference, you’ll be glad you did.
Have an expert in your corner
Hiring an experienced attorney who knows all the factors and types of income that should be considered in determining your support can make a big difference to you and your children.
At Scaringi & Scaringi P.C., our attorneys make sure our clients are prepared to document their child care costs. Working together, we make sure that all of the other party’s income – wages, salary, rent, dividends, pension, interest, estate or trust funds and Social Security – is being considered during the support conference.
It can make a world of difference when the bills come due.