1. State Laws Differ. Before you think you can get the same arrangement that your sister got in North Dakota or your brother agreed to in California, consult with your attorney. Child support is a basic consideration in a divorce and you want to work with your lawyer every step of the way. Choose an attorney who is well versed in the laws of your state to advise you on what will be considered a fair agreement and be acceptable to the court.
2. Education Costs. Is your child attending private school? Do you feel a private school is a necessity? What about secondary school when costs could go up? The cost of a private school can become an issue if you and your soon-to-be-ex don’t agree on the public versus private scenario. Things the judge may consider could include the ability of both parents to pay, the needs of a child, the length of time the child has been in a private school and public school options. If having a child in private school is something you want, try to include it in your child support agreement.
3. Extracurricular Activities. If you want your child to be a basketball star and your spouse could care less, this can be a problem. Know that courts do not usually include “extras” in the child support and they expect that these funds will be taken from the basic support award. However, the court can include extracurricular activities in a support agreement. It’s a possibility and it’s made on a case-by-case basis. From music to sports, these activities can cost and, in general, parents are not expected to pay child support to cover them. If you are going to ask for this type of award, you will need a compelling argument or, preferable, agreement from your spouse to help fund these activities.
4. Summer Childcare Expenses. Summers often mean an adjustment to in support – especially if the child is going to spend much of the time with a non-custodial parent. However, if a summer camp type experience is a legitimate child care option, the court may consider it.
5. Religious Training. If both parents intend to raise the child in a single faith and their commitment to that is proven at the time of the divorce, child support may include religious milestones like bar or bat mitzvahs or confirmations and first communions.
Agreeing on support can be difficult. It’s hard to look down the whole road of child rearing. This is an area where an experienced divorce is a necessity. The attorney’s experience will help you reach an equitable arrangement that protects both of the parents and the children and their needs. Listen to your attorney and try to cooperate with your spouse to reach that final agreement that works.