Portrait of John K Grubb

Texas Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement

4550 Post Oak Place, Suite 201 • Houston, Texas 77027-3139

Phone: 713-877-8800 • Fax: 713-877-1229

The Costs Custodial Parents Face in Raising a Child

This week we have discussed how divorced parents can handle some of the additional costs associated with raising children. Costs like prom expenses and fees to play school sports add up and eat into the monthly child support amount that custodial parents receive from their payor spouses. For many custodial parents, these additional costs are ones that they bear alone, without any help from their ex-spouses.

Custodial parents can address these inequities after the fact by returning to court with their lawyers to request a modification in the child support order to reflect these additional expenses. We discussed this possibility on Wednesday. This may be the only option in cases where a divorce occurs just after the birth of a child, as the child’s expenses will likely fluctuate a great deal over the next 18 years. Custodial parents should also do as much as they can to have expenses take into account at the time of the divorce. Too many enter into divorce settlements and child support agreements without having done enough to aggressively protect their interests and provide for their child’s expenses.

First, there is nothing preventing spouses from agreeing on their own to provide for their children above and beyond what the law requires. The law ordinarily requires that the payor parent pay child support until the child reaches the age of 18 (this limit is typically ignored in the case of a child with special physical or mental needs). This means that the payor has no obligation to provide for his or her child’s college costs, potentially placing a great burden on the custodial parent or the child him- or herself. Spouses can agree in a divorce settlement that the non-custodial parent will pay a portion of his or her child’s college costs, and this promise will be legally binding.

Second, custodial parents should be careful not to forget many of the day-to-day costs that may end up stretching the child support they do receive too thinly. For example, young children have clothing costs as they grow and other activities like summer camps, schoolmates’ birthday parties and school sports. Similarly, for older children, custodial parents need to remember all the costs associated with driving like insurance, gas, car upkeep and driver’s education classes. The more these costs that we take for granted are left out of divorce negotiations, the more difficult time a custodial parent will have in making ends meet with current child support amounts.

What additional expenses came into play for you when you were granted custody of your child?

John K. Grubb & Associates, P.C. – Houston divorce lawyers

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