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How do child care costs get factored into child support?

UPDATED: February 8, 2020

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The costs of child care, such as daycare or babysitters, is factored into the equation when a court is calculating how much child support one parent needs to pay to the other. How exactly this calculation is made varies by state. In the majority of child support cases, however, the cost of child care is split 50/50 under the law.

Calculating Child Care Costs 

Factoring in the cost of child care is a more complex situation than it seems at first glance. Immediately it seems clear that child care costs are in direct support of the child, and thus should be factored into child support as any other cost would be. However, the implications of child care are likely that the custodial parent is working, which means that he or she is earning income. Not only does this increase the total amount of income available to support the child (thus affecting the calculations), but it can also be argued that the custodial parent's income is also supporting the custodial parent as well.

In some states, you'll find various clauses that navigate this situation by looking at the specific factors and that make a legal decision based on these factors. Many states, however, avoid all of the confusion by simply setting a legal “definite” at 50/50. What this means is that the cost of child care in total is taken and divided in half. Half of that is considered the responsibility of the custodial parent. The other half is lumped into the other expenses the non-custodial parent is obligated to pay, and this dollar figure used accordingly when calculating support payment amounts.

Child Support Determinations

Child support determinations generally also take into account the income or earning potential of each parent, the fixed monthly expenses of each parent, and the number of children. Each state has its own unique formula and calculations, so it is important to consult with a lawyer in your local area to determine exactly what child support may be ordered.  

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