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Family Law: Who Pays for Back to School?

Kanata CA personal injury, family, and real estate law firm

My spouse and I are separated with children. Who pays for back to school expenses?

Parents often like to joke that back-to-school is “the most wonderful time of the year.” Covering the costs of sending the kids back into the classroom also makes it quite an expensive time of year. For parents who are separated or divorced, figuring out how those expenses get shared can create stress and conflict without clear communication, a reasonable approach and a solid agreement to guide them.

Some school expenses may be covered under the rules relating to “special and extraordinary expenses.” These types of expenses are typically shared in proportion to each parents’ income. Tuition and school fees, for example, are considered a special or extraordinary expense.

Some expenses, however, are not typically included in this category. For example, the extra pair of indoor only, non-marking running shoes for gym; all of the usual supplies like paper, pens, binders, calculators, and geometry sets; or a laptop or tablet that may be necessary for school work. These items can quickly add a significant cost to the monthly budget at back-to school time, so many parents ask, who pays and how
much?

The answers to those questions are not always straightforward, especially when parents disagree about such things as what is a reasonable expense, what is already included in the regular monthly child support payment, and should the expense be divided equally or proportionately between the parents?

Seeking advice from an experienced family law lawyer can provide parents with the information needed to understand each parents’ obligations and responsibilities when it comes to child support, special and extraordinary expenses and any other expenses related to child-rearing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This publication is the 42nd installment of our firm’s Legal Matters series, which answers a reader’s question every week. If you have a general legal question that you would like to have addressed please send it via email to legalmatters@compellingcounsel.com

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