Clients often ask, "what is included in child support?" This is a common question either because the parent paying child support continues to be asked for additional support by the children or because the parent receiving child support always hears, "that is what my child support pays for."
Appendix IX-A to the Rules of Court provides some answers to these questions.
Pay special attention to the exceptions…
Expenses Included in the Child Support Schedules
The awards in the Appendix IX-F child support schedules represent the average amount that intact families spend on their children (i.e., the marginal amount spent on the children). The Appendix IX-F support awards include the child's share of expenses for housing, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment, unreimbursed health care up to and including $250 per child per year, and miscellaneous items. Specific items included in each category are listed below. Note: The fact that a family does not incur a specific expense in a consumption category is not a basis for a deviation from the child support guidelines. The Appendix IX-F awards are based on the percentage of income spent on children by a large number of families in a variety of socioeconomic situations. The use of averages reflects the diversity of spending by parents. To qualify for a deviation based on average costs, a parent must show that the family's marginal spending on children for allitems related to a consumption category differs from the average family (e.g., there are no housing costs).
Housing- Mortgage interest payments or home equity loans, property taxes, insurance, refinancing charges, repairs, maintenance, rent, parking fees, property management or security fees, expenses for vacation homes, lodging while out of town, utilities, fuels, public services, domestic services, lawn care, gardening, pest control, laundry and dry cleaning (non-clothing), moving and storage, repairs on home, furniture, major appliances, purchase or rental of household equipment of tools, postage, laundry or cleaning supplies, cleaning and toilet tissues, household and lawn products, stationary, all indoor and outdoor furniture, floor coverings, all small appliances and housewares (except personal care appliances), all household textiles (e.g., linens, drapes, slipcovers, sewing materials, etc.), and miscellaneous household equipment (e.g., clocks, luggage, light fixtures, computers and software, decorating items, etc.). The net purchase price of a home and mortgage principal payments are considered savings and are not included as expenditures in this category.
Food - All food and non-alcoholic beverages purchased for home consumption or purchased away from home (including vending machines, restaurants, tips, school meals and catered affairs). Non-food items (e.g., tissue papers, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes) are not included.
Clothing - All children's clothing, footwear (except special footwear for sports), diapers, repairs or alterations to clothing and footwear, storage, dry cleaning, laundry, watches, and jewelry.
Transportation - All costs involved with owning or leasing an automobile including monthly installments toward principal cost, finance charges (interest), lease payments, gas and motor oil, insurance, maintenance and repairs. Also, included are other costs related to transportation such as public transit, parking fees, license and registration fees, towing, tolls, and automobile service clubs. The net outlay (purchase price minus the trade-in value) for a vehicle purchase is not included.
Unreimbursed Health Care Up to and Including $250 Per Child Per Year- Unreimbursed health-care expenditures (e.g., medical and dental) up to and including $250 per child per year are included in the schedules. Such expenses are considered ordinary and may include items such as non-prescription drugs, co-payments or health care services, equipment or products. The parent's cost of adding a child to health insurance policy is not included in the schedules.
Entertainment - Fees, memberships and admissions to sports, recreational, or social events, lessons or instructions, movie rentals, televisions, radios, sound equipment, pets, hobbies, toys, playground equipment, photographic equipment, film processing, video games, and recreational, exercise or sports equipment.
Miscellaneous Items - Personal care products and services (e.g., hair, shaving, cosmetics), books and magazines, education (e.g., tuition, books, supplies), cash contributions, personal insurance, and finance charges (except those for mortgage and vehicle purchases).
Expenses That May Be Added to the Basic Child Support Obligation
Because some child-related expenses represent large or variable expenditures or are not incurred by typical intact families, it is not appropriate to include them in the Appendix IX-F basic child support awards. The items listed below are not included in the Appendix IX-F child support awards. If incurred in a particular case, these expenses should be added to the basic support obligation.
a. Child-Care Expenses - The average cost of child care, including day camp in lieu of child care, is not factored into in the schedules. The net cost (after tax credits) of work-related child care should be added to the basic obligation if incurred.
b. Health Insurance for the Child - The parent's marginal cost of adding a child to a health insurance premium is not included in the support schedules and should be added to the basic obligation if incurred.
c. Predictable and Recurring Unreimbursed Health Care Expenses In Excess of $250 Per Child Per Year - Unreimbursed health-care expenses for a child in excess of $250 per child per year are not included in the schedules. Such expenses should be added to the basic obligation if they are predictable and recurring. Health-care expenses for a child that exceed $250 per child per yearthat are not predictable and recurring should be shared by the parents in proportion to their relative incomes as incurred (i.e., the sharing of these expenses should be addressed in the general language of the order or judgment). Health care costs that are not included in the support award should be paid directly to the parent who made or will make the expenditure or directly to the provider of the health care (also, see N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23b).
d. Other Expenses Approved by the Court - These are predictable and recurringexpenses for children that may not be incurred by average or intact families such as private elementary or secondary education, special needs of gifted or disabled children, and visitation transportation expenses. The addition of these expenses to the basic obligation must be approved by the court. If incurred, special expenses that are not predictable and recurring should be shared by the parents in proportion to their relative incomes (i.e., the sharing of these expenses should be addressed in the general language of the order or judgment). Special expenses not included in the award should be paid directly to the parent who made or will make the expenditure or to the provider of the goods or services.