Child Support and the Extraordinary Costs of Summer

In Child Support by Sarah Hink

The Battle Over Summer Camps

Ask any parent what the most expensive time of year is. We can safely say that many will say that summer is the most expensive. That’s because the children, on a traditional school calendar, are out of school for three months, while there is no way our employer will give us three months off to take care of them. This means that parents must pay for three months of childcare in the form of summer camps and other childcare arrangements. Parents with children in year-round schools experience the same expenses, but spread out over the year. These camps can be incredibly expensive, which translates into increased conflict between separated parents as to whom shall pay for these camps. If parents cannot amicably agree to payment arrangements, the question becomes: can a child support order account for work related child care expenses?

The answer depends on the circumstances of the case. If an initial child support order has not yet been entered by a court and a custodial parent can demonstrate the costs of the child care is work related, then it is possible to convince the trial court to order child support higher than the North Carolina guidelines. This is possible if the court finds that these summer camps constitute a “work related child care cost” or an It is the custodial parent’s burden to demonstrate the costs of the camps, that they are work related and if so, the cost can be included in the child support guidelines worksheet. should.

Additionally, the court can order the payment of summer or trackout camps separately. Most times ordering that the camps and extracurricular activities that the parties agree on will be shared by both parents. One parent can reimburse the other or each can pay directly to the provider. In this instance, the cost of the camps is not included on the child support worksheet.

A child support order does not account for work related summer camp expenses, then the custodial parent is not entitled to extra money to pay for those expenses. All hope is not lost, however, as it is possible to modify a child support order. Modifying a prior child support requires a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. Generally, courts are more likely to take a motion to modify more seriously if it is filed more than three years after the prior order was entered. Courts consider this time frame sufficient to establish a substantial change and a good point to revisit the circumstances of the parents.

Extended Summer Visitation and Child Support

Another child support consideration is when the child has extended visitation with the non-custodial parent during the summer. Is the parent who is actually caring for the child during that extended time period still obligated to pay child support during those months? This is a very common question. The simple answer is yes, the monthly child support obligation continues. This is because the child support guidelines already account for the number of days per year that a non-custodial parent has care and control of the child, which presumable includes summer visitation. Of course, if the number of days that the child actually spends with the non-custodial parent is significantly greater than when child support was ordered, the non-custodial parent should speak with an attorney to explore modifying the child support order.

Speak with An Attorney

New Direction Family Law has assisted clients with child support issues for more than twenty years. If you are interested in seeking child support orders or modifying existing ones, contact us to schedule a consultation. Our team of attorneys will give you comprehensive, straightforward advice about your legal options. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 or visit us at our website.