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Child Support Using A

Child Support Using A/B Expenses

By: Kenneth Neumann &
Steven L. Abel

Using child support guidelines is not for everyone. An alternative that has been used a number of times in mediations done through the Center for Family & Divorce Mediation divides child-related expenses into two categories:

A expenses -- for regular, recurring expenses, and
B expenses -- for irregular, or non-recurring expenses.

In this method, the non-residential or non-custodial parent pays a fixed monthly amount for A expenses and a share of the B expenses. Actually the Child Support Standards Act in New York, and the guidelines of other states, do this, in part, by separating medical, educational and child care costs and having both parents share these proportionately based on their incomes.

In this article, we'll explore some of the details of the arrangements we've worked out and talk about some of the pros and cons of A/B expense method versus regular child support. 

A Expenses

First off, what are A expenses? In the agreements signed so far, A expenses have included:

   Rent / Mortgage Payments

   Real Estate Taxes

   Utilities (gas, electric, oil, water, basic telephone, cable TV, cleaning service)

   Automobile Expenses

   Food, including school lunch money

   Clothing (although sometimes a different arrangement may be made. Logically this should or could be
       a B expense, but we usually think of A expenses as basic food, shelter and clothing)

   Personal care (hairdresser, barber, cosmetics and health products, etc.)

   Entertainment and eating out that you do with the children

   Family trips, travel & vacations.

B Expenses

Secondly, what are B expenses? These are usually expenses directly attributable only to the child rather than to the household and which are expected to change as time goes by, or which are only incurred occasionally or unpredictably. Again, some common examples are: 

Changeable Expenses: 

   Child care expenses, including baby-sitters and summer camp

   Nursery school, private school expenses

   Extracurricular activities, including lessons, clubs, scouting, and religious instruction (though the cost of      synagogue or church "dues" is often not included)

   College (because of its importance and large cost is often handled separately from other B expenses as a
       C expense)

   Weekly allowance (though often not dealt with or assumed to be an A expense).

Occasional Expenses:

   School supplies and uniforms

   School Trips

   Gifts to child's friends

   Sporting goods and hobbies

   Toy's and Games

These are either handled as A or B expenses depending on how high they are likely to be for a particular child or how specific or "nit-picking" the parents are.

Unpredictable Expenses: 

   Medical and dental including cost for covering the children

   Psychotherapy and tutoring

Some agreements have gone into extensive detail concerning the costs

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