What Happens When One Parent Wants to Compel the Other Parent to Pay for a Day Care or Summer Camp?
Calculating child support consumes a significant portion of any New Jersey family attorney’s time and, as I explained last week, online child support calculators should never be relied on for accuracy since they do not weigh all of the relevant statutory and equitable factors.
Our DeMichele & DeMichele attorney bloggers will continue to discuss these variables in order to better inform our readership. One of those relevant factors is the expense for net work-related day care. Appendix IX(9)(a) of the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines explains how “[t]he 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.”
Deciding how to calculate the net expense of child care isn’t exceedingly difficult in most cases; ascertaining whether it is a “necessary” or “discretionary” expense can be a very contentious issue. “Work-related” is the key phrase. We’ve previously blogged about how the Court will always look to see whether the day care or summer camp at issue is truly necessary to enable the parents to work or, alternatively, if it is merely a luxury or an attempt to deprive another parent of otherwise exercisable parenting time.
The Court may also evaluate whether the proposed day care is a reasonable expense; for example, parents with a combined gross annual income of $60,000.00 might not be expected to put out $1,000.00 per week for an elite basketball camp for a child who demonstrates no particular special talent or genuine interest for the sport. Regardless, a family judge may be reluctant to compel the non-moving parent to pay for it.
As you can see, allotting work-related day care expenses can be a complicated area of family law practice. The above referenced points are also only the “tip of the iceberg” where child support is concerned. Don’t take a chance or proceed with insufficient knowledge when your children and resources are on the line.
Furthermore, it’s important to note how, pursuant to NJSA 2A:17-56.23a, “[n]o payment or installment of an order for child support, or those portions of an order which are allocated for child support…. shall be retroactively modified by the court except with respect to the period during which there is a pending application for modification, but only from the date the notice of motion was mailed either directly or through the appropriate agent.” Hence, if your child has been in a day care program for the last two years but you only recently filed a motion to compel the non-paying parent to contribute, then you are unlikely to receive reimbursement further back than your filing date. The obvious exception would be if the non-paying parent was already responsible to pay a percentage owing to some other prior order or agreement between the parties.
It very literally does not pay to delay if you’re the parent seeking contribution.
We regularly represent New Jersey residents grappling with child support and child care disputes in Camden, Mercer, Gloucester, Burlington, Cumberland, Atlantic, and Salem counties. If you or a loved one has questions regarding child support, day care or summer camp obligations, click here to contact the family law attorneys at DeMichele & DeMichele today. You can also reach us at (856) 546-1350 to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our attorneys.