Families Change Guide to Separation & Divorce

4.4 - Extraordinary Expenses

4.4 - Extraordinary Expenses

As we have just seen, child support payments cover the basic, everyday expenses of raising a child.  These payments are meant to cover required expenses like food, shelter and clothing.

In addition to paying the base amount of child support, a paying parent may also be required to cover a portion of other kinds of expenses. The child support laws in California allow the court to make orders for parents to contribute to the “extraordinary expenses associated with raising their child. 

These expenses may include:

  • the cost of childcare relating to employment or education and training for employment skills,
  •  uninsured health care,
  • the child’s education or other special needs, and
  • travel expenses relating to visitation (parenting time). 

Parents may ask the court to include in the child support order the percentage of these expenses that each parent must pay.

When one parent incurs bills for extraordinary expenses, that parent may ask the other parent to pay their share by promptly giving the other parent an itemized statement of that expense. If the entire expense was paid, that parent must provide proof of the payment and request reimbursement of the court-ordered share.

However, if the parent paid only his percentage share, that parent must provide the other parent with proof of what that parent paid and request that the other parent pay the remainder directly to the provider. A parent disputing a request for extraordinary expenses must pay the amount before requesting the court rule on the propriety of the expense.

Parents can make their own agreement about how  extraordinary expenses will be shared between them. Parents can agree to what expenses they will share, and how they will share them.

Parents can agree to share expenses which do not necessarily qualify as extraordinary expenses under the Guidelines. In addition, parents can agree on how they will share expenses. For example, they may choose to share them 50/50, instead of in proportion to their incomes.

Parents can make their own arrangements to pay extraordinary expenses. However, for an agreement to be enforced,, it  must be made into an order, signed by a judge, and filed in your case file in family court.