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Back to School Expenses: A Co-Parenting Dilemma


If you think trying to make difficult financial decisions with your spouse is stressful, try making difficult financial decisions with your ex-spouse.  To make matters worse, the less money there is to go around, the more difficult the decisions are.  Back to school is a close second, after tax time, when it comes to financial decisions about co-parenting.  To add insult to injury, the first pieces of advice Google offers you about the matter have to do with paying for private school tuition, equestrian lessons, and gymnastics tournaments, as if you and your ex-spouse could ever afford those things.  August is most people’s least favorite month, but it is even worse when your kid has outgrown last year’s school shoes, and even though his backpack can probably last through the fourth grade, he refuses to carry it because Spiderman is so third grade, and your ex thinks that these problems are your responsibility to fix and yours alone.  A Boca Raton child custody lawyer can help you resolve co-parenting disputes that the court did not directly address in your parenting plan and child support order.

Which Parent Pays for Children’s Clothes and School Supplies at the Beginning of the School Year?

Parenting time is a matter of personal preference, but child support is not.  During divorce mediation, you and your spouse agree on a timesharing schedule that works for you. The parenting plan addresses which parent has the final decision about which extracurricular activities the children participate in and which doctors provide non-emergency medical treatment, but it does not address which parent pays for them.

Once you have set the parenting plan, the court calculates child support based on how many days per year the children spend with each parent and on the parents’ respective incomes; by the time you have finalized the parenting plan, these are uncontroversial matters.  It is the last factor, namely the children’s necessary expenses, that is a source of disagreement.  How much do the children need to spend on clothes and school supplies each year?

The best time to decide this is while you are still in mediation, working on your parenting plan.  Although clothes shopping tends to be concentrated at certain times of year, the law regards it as just another part of “children’s expenses.”  Therefore, the parents pay for back-to-school clothes in proportion to their income, the same way they pay for children’s groceries and after school care.  If this means that your ex has to charge your children’s school supplies and clothes for the school year on her credit card or a BNPL account and then pay them off as the child support checks come in, such is the way of the universe.

Contact Schwartz | White About Conflicts Over Children’s Expenses

A South Florida family law attorney can help you if your ex keeps asking you for more money even though you are up to date with your child support payments.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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