When parents are divorced and share responsibilities for their minor children, understanding how childcare expenses get paid is important. Many parents have questions about who contributes to childcare expenses during a child’s school breaks. For example, when a child is home from school over winter break, which parent provides the funds for childcare?
The parents share in this cost. However, that does not mean parents split costs 50/50. Rather, what each parent ends up paying has to do with the way in which the court has calculated child support obligation and the way the parents have developed a parenting plan. We will say more about how various aspects of child custody and child support play a role in determining who pays for childcare during holiday breaks.
Adding Child Care Expenses into the Child Support Calculation
Maryland uses an income shares model of child support, which means the court considers both parents’ incomes in calculating the total support obligation. The court combines both parents’ incomes and uses that amount to determine the total child support obligation for the child or children. Then, based on several factors, which include each parent’s income and the amount of time each parent spends with the child for overnights, the court will order each parent to contribute a percentage of the total support obligation.
While that total child support obligation is based largely on the parents’ combined incomes, other costs can be added in. Under Maryland law (Md. Family Law Code Ann. § 12-204), actual childcare expenses incurred can be included as part of the child support obligation. Specifically, the law states that childcare expenses incurred on behalf of a child due to the job of either parent are added to the basic obligation and divided between the parents proportionally to their adjusted incomes.
When it comes to childcare expenses during holiday breaks, it will be important for at least one parent to raise this issue when the court decides about child support. Then, the court will look at actual family experience in paying for childcare as a result of the parents’ employment. If there is no actual family experience (for example, if one parent had been a stay-at-home parent during the marriage), then the court will look at other factors in calculating what will be the actual cost of childcare. To be clear, these childcare expenses can include costs a parent must pay during holiday breaks.
How a Parenting Plan Might Impact Who Pays for Childcare
How parents have developed a parenting plan, which should specify how the child spends holiday breaks, can also play a role in determining who pays for childcare expenses.
Parents may have come to an agreement that the child will spend winter break with one parent and spring break with the other parent, and that each parent will pay for the childcare expenses during that period. Or, the parents may have come to an agreement that each holiday break will be shared between the parents, with the child having an equal number of overnights with each parent. In such case, the parents may agree that they each pay for the childcare associated with their overnights.
Talk to a Maryland Family Lawyer
If you have questions about paying for childcare over a break or how the court will determine certain types of support obligations, a family lawyer in Maryland can help. Contact the Law Offices of Sandra Guzman-Salvado for more information.